BP’s back in the political contributions game

BP is back to its old ways — and we’re not talking about drilling and spilling.

Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP stopped making donations to federal campaigns. But in March the oil giant’s giving resumed, POLITICO reports, with BP’s political action committee’s $50,000 in federal-level giving among the most generous this cycle.

Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor who edits the Election Law Blog, said the company has quickly shed its toxic donation status among politicians after last year’s Gulf oil spill.

“They’re reaching the point where politicians can accept their money without fear of being branded as in the pocket of a corrupt corporation,” Hasen said to POLITICO.

BP’s PAC has been giving generous donations to Republicans and Democrats at nearly the same rate it donated to politicians during the 2008 presidential election cycling, according to the POLITICO report.

And it seems politicians – who nearly 18 months ago ran away from BP PAC donations – are now happy to scoop them up.

“I would see BP in the same shoes as any other oil company,” said Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, noting that the company has worked hard to properly respond to what ended up being the largest oil spill in U.S. history. “I don’t think I’d have any big objection to them contributing to me now.”

BP declined to get into the specifics of its PAC finances with POLITICO.

“BP, like most large companies, has an employee political action committee that makes contributions to federal and state candidates and political party organizations,” the oil giant said in a statement. “These voluntary employee contributions are publicly reported, as required by law, and the filings speak for themselves.”

Politicians aren’t the only ones receiving generous donations for the oil giant.

According to the Associated Press, BP extended its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee through the 2016 today. Details were not released, but the deal is likely worth between $12 million and $15 million, according to the AP.

The USOC — just as politicians — haven’t backed away from donations from BP in the wake of last year’s Gulf oil spill. A BP spokeswoman said the tragedy wasn’t something that the company couldn’t run away from.

“It’s a tragedy that will stay with us,” said Crystal Ashby, BP America’s executive vice president for government and public affairs. “The Olympic team and its quest for excellence and belief in getting up each day and doing the right thing and striving for success, it’s very much like what we do in the Gulf. We keep the commitments we’ve made in the Gulf. And we’re committed to the success of the U.S. athletes and their programs.”

So what do you think? Are you surprised BP PAC is donating 18 months after the Gulf oil spill?

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