Oil and gas industry spent $12M on last Colorado election, report says

Photo: Oil pump jack (AP Photo)
In this Dec. 5, 2012 photo, the sun sets behind an oil pump jack and the Rocky Mountains near Fredrick, Colo.

The oil and gas industry spent nearly $12 million trying to influence Colorado voters during the last election cycle, according to a new analysis by the liberal group Colorado Ethics Watch.

That's a big jump from past years. The vast majority of industry spending went into opposing a slate of initiatives that would have put new restrictions on drilling. But half the money was spent after those measures were pulled off the ballot, on efforts to convince voters that the industry is already well regulated.

Oil and gas groups also spent nearly a $1 million on candidates for the last election. In the governor’s race, most of the money went to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. When it comes to legislative races, Ethics Watch’s Peg Pearl said most of the money went to incumbents, regardless of party.

"For the general assembly folk, it is a bipartisan group and it does match leadership," Pearl said.

According to the Ethics Watch report, in open races the oil and gas industry tended to give to the Republican candidate. The group did not analyze how this spending compares to other interest groups.