In past election cycles, the chemistry council has supported candidates from both major parties, though it has generally given more to Republicans. During the 2018 midterm cycle, its PAC gave $195,000 to Democrats and $354,000 to Republicans. The Democrats who received the most from the PAC in 2018 were Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who received $8,500 and $9,000, respectively.
The council’s president and CEO is former Rep. Calvin Dooley (D-Calif.), who retired from Congress in 2005 and joined the organization in 2008. Dooley received thousands of dollars from the council’s PAC when he was running for reelection in the early 2000s.
In addition to contributions to candidates through its PAC, the council itself spent heavily on “issue ads” about the “economy and regulations” in 2018, according to FCC filings. The group spent nearly $2.5 million on independent expenditures during the 2018 election cycle, $900,000 of which was classified as electioneering communications.
The council is a 501(c)(6) organization, so IRS rules state that politics cannot be its primary purpose. The rule has generally been interpreted to mean that up to 49.9 percent of any 501(c)(6) group’s expenditures may go toward politics. This interpretation allows the council, which had a revenue of $121 million in 2017 according to IRS filings, to spend millions of dollars on politics.
The council is not required to disclose its donors, and does not do so voluntarily. It has received contributions from the American Petroleum Institute in past years, according to grants disclosed in IRS records examined by OpenSecrets.
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