Consumer group names Murkowski biggest recipient of nuclear lobby

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The nuclear power lobby has contributed $144,000 in campaign contributions to Sen. Frank Murkowski since 1997, according to Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.

The group analyzed the contributions of the nuclear power industry's political action committees and concluded that Murkowski received more of their money than any other senator or Senate candidate. Public Citizen has dubbed Murkowski -- the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee -- ''the indisputable Nuclear PAC Man.''

''He's the No. 1 friend of the nuclear power industry,'' said Lisa Gue, a policy analyst for Public Citizen.

The contributions that Public Citizen tracked are to Murkowski's Senate re-election campaign, which can't be transferred to his current campaign for governor. Alaska's campaign finance law prohibits contributions from PACs based outside the state.

Public Citizen looked at the PACs of all corporations that are members of the Nuclear Energy Institute, which the group says gave more than $5 million in senate races since 1997. The NEI members include General Electric, Enron, Florida Power and Light -- companies whose political interests extend beyond nuclear power.

''Since he is or was the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, it would not be surprising that he received donations from energy companies,'' Murkowski spokesman Chuck Kleeschulte told the Anchorage Daily News.

It's impossible to know, Kleeschulte said, whether the company PACs gave to Murkowski because of his support of nuclear power or because of his position on electricity deregulation, production incentives or any of the other issues they care about.

Not that Murkowski is hiding his support for nuclear power.

''It produces 20 percent of our electricity without causing greenhouse gases,'' Kleeschulte said.

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