by Max Brantley
Environmental groups gathered outside Sen. Lincoln's office this morning to urge action on climate change legislation.
Environmental and good government groups continue to probe relationships that help explain lawmakers' positions on important legislation.
For example, regarding Sen. Blanche Lincoln's opposition to regulation of greenhouse gases and cap and trade legislation:
The Sunlight Foundation took a look at lobbyists with personal ties to the congresswoman and found that at least six of Lincoln’s former staff members now lobby for interest groups with a stake in climate regulations, including oil and gas trade groups.
One former aide who was once described as Lincoln’s “alter ego”, Kelly Bingel, now lobbies for the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, Edison Electric Institute and the Business Roundtable. Another former aide, Charles Barnett, lobbies for NRG Energy and El Paso Corp. Another, Benjamin Noble, lobbies for Southern Co. (See the full map of lobbying connections at the Sunlight Foundation Web site).
Lobbyists are only part of the equation when adding up the fossil fuel industries' influence in Washington, of course.
When it comes to campaign contributions this election cycle, Lincoln and Murkowski also lead the list of the recipients of campaign cash connected to the energy and natural resources industries, a group led by oil companies and utilities.
The Top 10 congressional recipients of contributions related to the energy and natural resources industries so far in the 2010 election cycle, according to federal fillings compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, are:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — $420,722
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) — $417,296