Methodology

A look behind the Center's reporting process for "The Politics of Oil"

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Methodology

Politics of Oil is an international investigation of one of the world's richest industries and how it influences government and public policy around the world. The project is funded by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

To determine which companies to include in our database, the Center for Public Integrity consulted several financial databases including Mergent Online, Hoovers, Yahoo Financial and others. We also checked industry lists published by Oil & Gas Journal and other industry publications and Web sites.

Companies were included if a primary part of their business was in the oil or gas industry, or affiliated industries such as the servicing of offshore oil rigs. Electric utilities were generally excluded, unless a significant part of their business involved natural gas.

Associations and trade groups were gleaned from various industry Web sites.

To calculate campaign contribution history for the companies and organizations covered in the report, the Center compiled a database with more than nine million campaign contributions reported to the Federal Election Commission. Those contributions were made by individuals and political action committees to federal candidates, political parties and other PACs between 1990 and mid-year 2004.

For lobbying activity, the Center created a database of lobby disclosure information filed with the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records. Under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, companies and organizations are required to document how much they spend in a six-month period on lobbying, who lobbied for them, which branches of the federal government they lobbied and what issues they lobbied on. The filings cover calendar year 1998 through year-end 2003, which were the most current reports available at the time this report was produced.

In order to calculate the total campaign finance and lobbying history for each company in the study, the Center began by researching their present and past corporate structures, identifying the current parent companies as well as any affiliated subsidiaries.

Political contributions made by individuals or political action committees affiliated with those parent companies and subsidiaries were aggregated to arrive at a single number.

Because subsidiaries are frequently bought and sold, the Center tried wherever possible to exclude campaign contributions if they were made during periods of time when those subsidiaries were not owned by their current parent company.

The Center used the same methodology to determine each company's history of lobbying.

Transcripts of several National Petroleum Council meetings from 1999 to 2003 were obtained by the Center. According to its Web site, the NPC makes these meeting records publicly available at its Washington office. Copies of NPC reports are also available from its Web site. A database was created of listed NPC members from 1999 to the present and campaign contributions were calculated from FEC filings. The Center's list of Bush "pioneers" and "rangers," individuals who pledged to raise either $100,000 or $200,000 respectively for the president's campaigns, was gathered from the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign Web site as well as from Texans for Public Justice, a non-profit watchdog group.

The Team

Project Manager:Bob Williams
Editor:Teo Furtado
Database Editor:Aron Pilhofer
Writers:Kevin Bogardus, Rakesh Kalshian, Daniel Lathrop, Laura Peterson, Paul Radu and Bob Williams
Graphic Designer:Jonathan Werve
Web Developer:Han Nguyen
Research Editors:Alexander Cohen, Peter Newbatt Smith
Researchers:Agustín Armendariz, Kevin Baron, Michael Baxter, Krystal Cobb, Bob Fagen, Kristian Horvei, Alex Knott, Eva Koehler, Sapna Patel, Daniel Politi, Genna Sankin, Joshua Starr, André Verlöy, Katherine Wilson-Milne
IT Manager:Javed Khan

The Center for Public Integrity

Executive Director: Charles Lewis 
Managing Editor: Bill Allison 
Director of Communications and Outreach: Ann Pincus 
Director of Development: Barbara Schecter 
Director of Finance and Administration: Cathy Sweeney