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Regulation & Legislation

SIGMA’s Election Strategy

Which candidates did the largest fuel-marketing organization back financially in the midterm elections?
Photograph: Shutterstock

SAN FRANCISCO -- How does a conservative business industry respond to a Democratic election takeover of the House of Representatives?

“We know how things swing back and forth,” said Doug Kantor, partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, the legal and lobbying arm of SIGMA.

Speaking on Wednesday in San Francisco to the country’s largest organization of fuel marketers and distributors at the independent gasoline marketer group’s annual fall meeting, Kantor said, “It is smart for all of us to make sure you’re not throwing all of your chips on the table on one [political] party.”

After eight years of Republican rule, Congress is now a house divided, with Democrats capturing approximately 30 seats (some still contested at posting time) and Republicans expanding their hold on the Senate by at least three seats.

Suddenly, key House committees will now be led by Democrats. And in the world of micro-legislation, where every line of a comprehensive bill can affect millions of dollars for specific industries, building alliances across political parties is critical.

There are few better at this than SIGMA. To the outsider, it may be surprising that SIGMA contributed $4,000, for example, to ultra-liberal Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). But considering the veteran lawmaker will soon head the powerful House Financial Services Committee, boasting a long-term relationship is vital. As Kantor said, “She’s always supported us on swipe fees. Many of you–perhaps all of you–may not support her views. But on issues important to us, she has been someone we can work with.”

Later, he said, “For whatever it’s worth, there is no member of Congress I’ve known [longer] than Maxine Waters … 44 years.” Kantor quipped that he’s known Rep. Waters since he was five years old.

Altogether, SIGMA contributed more than $250,000 in House races in the midterm elections to the campaigns of 71 Republicans, 20 Democrats and one unaffiliated. For the Senate, SIGMA kicked in $22,500 to 13 candidates—seven Republicans and six Democrats.

“We have a bipartisan legislative team,” said longtime SIGMA counsel Tim Columbus, also a partner with Steptoe & Johnson. “We’ll have to make some adjustments. The republic will survive.”

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