CONCORD — The energy company that wants to build a $3 billion natural gas pipeline across Southern New Hampshire spent $53,500 to lobby state officials in 2014 and an estimated $70,780 so far in 2015, more than any other public interest, nonprofit or labor organization, according to Open Democracy.
The nonprofit organization’s analysis of campaign contributions also reveals that Gov. Maggie Hassan in 2014 received a $2,000 donation from Richard and Nancy Kinder. Richard Kinder is the co-founder and executive chairman of Kinder Morgan.
The Concord-based nonpartisan organization was founded in 2009 by campaign finance reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who died a year later. The group is best known in New Hampshire for its flagship campaign, the New Hampshire Rebellion, which aims to get big money out of politics.
The group analyzed campaign finance records over the past 15 years to determine the extent of political contributions and lobbying from Kinder Morgan, whose Tennessee Gas Pipeline subsidiary has applications pending before state and federal regulators for the 30-inch transmission pipe that would cross through 17 towns in Southern New Hampshire.
Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley said the company does not make corporate political contributions, and that the figures cited by Open Democracy, if accurate, reflect the individual contributions of Kinder Morgan executives or employees.
As regards lobbying expenditures, he declined to comment.
“We don’t comment on lobbying or campaign donations, and we don’t have a PAC,” he said. “Any political contributions made by our nearly 12,000 employees are made individually as private citizens with their own personal money.
As a company, we obviously do not track any political contributions made by any of our employees as private citizens, and it would be inappropriate to comment on any such private political activities.”
According to Open Democracy, the lobbying in New Hampshire and Massachusetts by Kinder Morgan and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners coincided with the introduction of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project in 2014. Both states require lobbyists to report expenditures, and those reports are available for public inspection.
They show that Kinder Morgan or its subsidiaries spent $148,500 to lobby Massachusetts officials in 2014 and $301,334 so far in 2015.
The group could find no record of lobbying expenditures in New Hampshire prior to 2014, when the proposed pipeline was rerouted from northern Massachusetts to Southern New Hampshire. Kinder Morgan reported $20,000 and $60,000 spent on Bay State lobbying in 2012 and 2013.
In addition to its lobbying activity, Kinder Morgan executives and employees have made state and federal campaign contributions totaling more than $3 million between 2014-15.
Company Chairman Richard Kinder and his wife Nancy accounted for the bulk of the contributions, according to Open Democracy, giving $2 million to the Right to Rise Super PAC supporting presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
In addition to the $2,000 contribution to Hassan, Richard and Nancy Kinder donated $1,000 in 2014 to the campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Hassan on Friday submitted a letter to FERC stating she can’t support the pipeline as currently proposed unless federal regulators and the company address the concerns of affected communities. “It is my belief that if the company cannot do so, the project should not move forward as currently proposed,” she wrote.
But pipeline opponents who attended a recent meeting with the governor complained to the media that her position was ambivalent.
The Open Democracy analysis found that Kinder Morgan executives or employees have invested $5.3 million in political contributions to state and federal candidates since 2000, with 87 percent of the money going to Republican candidates.
Representatives of the organization were unavailable for comment on their report, which was released late Thursday afternoon.
This article was written by Dave Solomon from The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.