Democrat who benefited from BP cash now worried oil company will alter election 

As if BP executives didn't have enough on their hands with the Gulf oil spill, the company is now being used as a pawn in the Democrats' attempt to pass the unconstitutional DISCLOSE Act.

In a pitch for his campaign disclosure bill, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday, "We believe voters have the right to know who is spending this money because there are lots of organizations who hide behind nice-sounding names, like Americans for Clean Oceans funded by BP."

There is no such organization called Americans for Clean Oceans and there's no evidence BP has done anything to influence an election since the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United v. FEC case in January.

Van Hollen, not wanting a serious crisis to go to waste, used BP for the sole purpose of generating a scare-mongering headline. Mission accomplished.

Of course, Van Hollen failed to mention that BP donated more than $60,000 to House Democrats in the 2008 cycle -- when he was in charge of fundraising as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Democrats have received more than $20,000 in BP donations so far this cycle with Van Hollen at the helm of the DCCC.

More importantly, no candidate over the course of the past 20 years has benefited more from BP cash than President Obama himself. He raked in $71,051 during his presidential campaign in 2008 -- nearly twice as much as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Hypocrisy is the norm in Washington, but for a congressman to use the Gulf oil spill to score political points is just callous -- especially when his party benefited directly from BP's campaign contributions.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was quick to call him out of line. "Mr. Van Hollen owes an apology to the people who are suffering in the Gulf, those working night and day to help save wildlife and the environment, and every Member of this House who represents them," Cantor said. "I hope Speaker Pelosi agrees that any effort to use this crisis for purely political purposes is beyond the pale and unacceptable in this House."

Critics of the DISCLOSE Act note that it would serve as an incumbent protection program for Democrats by penalizing their critics with burdensome requirements while at the same time shielding their union allies from some of the same disclosure rules.

Bluey directs the Center for Media and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

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Rob Bluey

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