Oil, gas influence on Colorado politics questioned

DENVER — The oil and gas industry in Colorado exerts an outsize influence in Colorado politics. A report out Thursday questions how energy producers benefit from spending generously on lobbying and political donations.

The report from the left-leaning Colorado Ethics Watch totals recent state political spending by oil and gas producers. Ethics Watch says that oil and gas companies and associations spent nearly $5 million lobbying Colorado officials between 2007 and 2012. That’s more than twice what other mining business spent, and more than five times what the agriculture industry spent.

Ethics Watch does not accuse the oil and gas industry of wrongdoing. But the group suggests that oil and gas drilling regulations and fines would be tougher if the industry didn’t spend so freely to influence politicians.

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