According to a new survey by a European pro-environment group the answer is yes, sort of. The Climate Action Network Europe (or Cane) conducted an analysis of campaign contributions made by major European firms and found that several of Europe's biggest carbon-emitters – including BP and Germany's BASF and Bayer – were major contributors to two of the Tea Party's favorite Senators; Oklahoma's James Inhofe and South Carolina's Jim DeMint, who received nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the European companies. DeMint is just about the closest thing the diffuse Tea Party has to a national spokesman, it's worth noting that he recently finished just behind the Queen of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, in a straw poll about who the Tea Partiers would like to see run for president in 2012.
In addition to their status as Tea Party favorites, DeMint and Inhofe are two of the biggest climate change skeptics in the United States Senate, which is likely what's driving the contributions from big emitters like BP and BASF – given the United States' status as the world's largest economy (for now at least), whatever climate change legislation is adopted here will have an affect on business around the world. BP, BASF, Bayer, etc are likely then trying to nip any potential legislation in the bud by supporting climate skeptics in the US Senate.
The issue also raises some interesting questions for the Tea Party crowd. One of their motivating factors is a desire to save America from the socialism that, they say, is taking over the country. Of course among those on the Right, there's no bigger symbol of socialism in the world today than Europe, whose tax structure and generous social programs put them firmly in the “socialist” category (at least in the minds of the Right). So what does it say when American politicians take support from this hotbed of socialism (even if it is from European companies)? And second, how do politicians taking donations from European sources square with the Tea Party's self-stated mission of “taking our country back”? Seems like if anything they would be against politicians becoming beholden to foreign sources of money...
The CANE report does seem to offer some support for one of the claims made by the Democrats in this election cycle, namely that foreign sources are pouring campaign donations into races in 2010, a claim refuted by a number of Republican sources.
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