BP PLC: Politics, Payola and Petroleum

BP PLC: Politics, Payola and Petroleum

If you rank our federal government’s Top 100 contractors according to their total reported instances of misconduct since 1995, the number one spot turns out to be a three-way tie at 57 between Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil, and BP P.L.C. (formerly “British Petroleum”, now simply “BP”).  Between them, however, BP is the winner in terms of their associated misconduct dollars for the period, which totalled over $2.65 billion:


Yet despite their responsibility for the worst oil spill and ecological disaster in Gulf Coast history, which capped off a litany of repeat offenses involving multiple charges of Clean Air Act violations, hazardous waste violations, employee safety violations, anti-trust violations and other white collar crimes, BP is perennially “awarded” megabucks government contracts by Uncle Sam, including over $1 billion in new contracts last year:


Given that their principal product – petroleum – is an undifferentiated commodity for which they possess no exclusivity, one might question how a “foreign” corporation with such a deplorable reputation is able to keep their snout in the Washington trough.  The answer is that since its genesis circa 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) subsidiary of Burmah Oil Company, the history of BP has been as much about politics and payola as it has about petroleum.  Some say the grease started flowing in 1923 when a young Winston Churchill “…secretly accepted 5,000 pounds – the equivalent of perhaps millions in today’s money – from Burmah Oil to lobby the British government to allow Burmah to collar Persian [i.e. Iranian] oil resources.”


Whenever it began, BP’s political payola still gushes to this day.  From 1989 to 2010, BP contributed $3,437,884 to U.S. candidates on both sides of the political spectrum, with Barack H. Obama blowing by George W. Bush to take the top recipient slot.  And what their puppets got directly was chump change compared to the $62,010,584 BP has funneled to (and through?) Washington lobbyists since 1997.  And to make sure the beneficiaries of all that generosity know exactly what is expected in return, since 1995 no less than 24 BP employees have been seated on no less than 24 key federal “advisory” committees:


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The web is awash with conspiracy theories involving BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Goldman Sachs and others having to do with intent or foreknowledge of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig catastrophe, selling and short-selling of impacted stocks prior to the Gulf Oil Spill disaster, the application of deadly dispersants and the disappearance of whistleblowers afterwards, and more.  We have neither investigated nor verified any of these, and include this video reference only for your awareness and speculation.




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