Opinion Brief

Do BP's big donations to Obama matter?

The president has received more in political contributions from BP than any other federal candidate in the last 20 years. Is that fact important?

Over the past two decades, President Obama is the number one recipient of campaign donations from the company whose burned-out oil rig is now spewing millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, reports Politico. He received $77,051 from BP and its employees during his time in the Senate and while running for president. In total, the firm has given $3.5 milllion to federal candidates over the past 20 years. Is it possible the company has gotten special treatment from Obama, or are its donations not relevant to the spill?

That would explain the delay in responding, then: Now we know why Obama took "so long to respond to the oil spill disaster," says Cassie Fiano at her blog. No doubt they'll say it's just "coincidence that he dragged his feet" when he should have reacted quickly. But now that these donations are public knowledge, BP should prepare to be "thrown under the Obama bus.""Obama the top recipient of donations from BP"

Relatively speaking, BP is not a huge donor: This story falls apart in context, says Michael Scherer in Time. It's true Obama received more money than everyone else from BP, but only because he was running for president. And BP's federal donations "pale in comparison" with other big corporate donors — AT&T gave $45 million in the same period, and Goldman Sachs $32 million. "Playing internet gotcha with campaign finance numbers"

The GOP shouldn't play up these charges: As a conservative, it would be tempting to use this situation to portray Obama as "nothing more than a Chicago pol willing to do the bidding of his donors," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. But Republicans should avoid "overplay[ing] their hand on this issue" — doing so undermine the urgent effort to expand domestic oil production."Obama biggest recipient of BP money over past 20 years"

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