The Sunlight Foundation's Paul Blumenthal traces Sen. Max Baucus' special interest ties to climate legislation -- 12 of his former staffers, including four former chiefs of staff, now lobby for organizations with a vested interest in the policy.
The Montana senator recently voted no on the Boxer-Kerry climate bill from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. As the chairman of the Senate's Finance Committee, Baucus will have his own chance to mold the legislation, and his connections with lobbyists representing a "large cross-sections of industries" could bring a "diversity in positions on the underlying climate bill."
Former Baucus chief of staff David Castagnetti represents a large number of organizations opposed to the legislation including the American Petroleum Institute, the Business Roundtable, the Air Transport Association of America and Koch Industries. On the other end is former Policy Counsel J. Curtis Rich, who represent a number of biofuel, bioenergy and alternative energy groups that are generally supportive climate legislation.
The Associated Press reported that of the 11 Democrats present for the vote, Baucus was the only one who voted no, expressing dissatisfaction of the bill's greenhouse gas emission goals, which are more stringent than those passed by the House in June.
Other committees still must weigh-in on the measure, but the partisan antics early on threatened to cast a pall over the bill - one of President Barack Obama's top priorities - as it makes its way to the Senate floor and as nations prepare to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark next month to hammer out a new international treaty to slow climate change.
During this year's contentious effort to reform health care, Baucus and the Finance Committee came under fire for his extensive ties to the health care industry. In 2008 he received $1,148,775 from the health care sector and $285,850 from the insurance sector.