At a campaign stop in San Antonio this week, Mitt Romney took a moment to single out Harold Hamm for praise. At the surface, that’s wasn’t too surprising – Hamm is a billionaire oilman who’s been sharply critical of President Obama, and who’s donated to Romney’s campaign.
But as Michael Isikoff recently reported, there’s a little more to the connection between the two wealthy conservatives.
Just one month after he was named Mitt Romney’s top energy adviser, Oklahoma billionaire Harold Hamm contributed $985,000 to the top pro-Romney Super PAC – a donation that was the second largest the group collected in April, according to a new campaign disclosure filing today.
The cash infusion from Hamm, the chairman and CEO of Continental Resources – a firm that touts itself as “America’s Oil Champion” – is a new example of how big Super PAC donors can make their policy views heard by the campaigns they are supporting.
Just a few months ago, the Republican nominee announced that Hamm would serve as the chairman of the Romney campaign’s “Energy Policy Advisory Group,” putting Hamm in a position to shape a new “pro-jobs, pro-market, pro-American” energy agenda, which Romney would presumably pursue if elected.
And wouldn’t you know it, soon after Romney gave Hamm the influential post, the oilman contributed nearly $1 million to Romney’s super-PAC, on top of the money he’d already contributed to the Romney campaign itself.
As Isikoff explained, Hamm’s “huge new donation to the Romney Super PAC … could potentially raise questions about the connections between his donations and his role in shaping campaign policies that might benefit his company. So far, the campaign has not publicly disclosed the other names of the energy advisory group, making it impossible to determine whether they have also given money to the Super PAC or the campaign.”
There’s also, of course, the matter of what Hamm intends to do with his influence. Kyle Roerink reported a few weeks ago on Hamm’s policy wish list, which includes protecting oil industry tax subsidies and completing the Keystone pipeline.
To understand what kind of agenda Romney would pursue in the White House, it’s critical to know who has his ear. In this case, when it comes to energy policy, the Republican nominee will apparently listen to the billionaire oilman who’s writing very large checks to Team Romney.