Joe Barton

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search
Joe Barton currently serves the Sixth Congressional district of Texas

Joe Linus Barton, a Republican, has represented the Sixth Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1984. (map)

Record and controversies


BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill [2]

Recently, Barton has caused much controversy when he apologized to BP about the alleged "shakedown" by the White House over the oil spill disaster. Joe Barton stated:

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) during a hearing on Thursday morning with BP's CEO Tony Hayward." I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown -- with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for our nation's future. I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize," Barton added. "I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown." [1]

Immediately, House Republican leadership threatened to strip Barton of his seniority on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Shortly after, Barton retracted his previous statements and apologized for his original apology to BP. [2] Media bloggers do not seem to buy his retraction. As Jay Bookman wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Barton’s apology to BP was not a slip of the tongue; the controversy that resulted is not a media-driven tempest in a teapot, like the mini-scandal about Tony Hayward going to a yacht race or the phrase “small people” escaping from the lips of the BP chairman. Nor was Barton’s sentiment that of some rogue congressman. No, the problem with Barton’s statement is that it honestly expresses core GOP values." [3]

Joe Barton has voted for Big Oil Companies 100% of the time based on important oil-related bills. These include Iraq War Funding, Cutting Oil Subsides, Clean Energy, and Climate Studies. See money-related issues below.[citation needed]

Iraq War

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Barton voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[4]

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

House Energy Policy Act 2005

Barton, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was criticized for many provisions in the 2005 House Energy Policy Act, some of which did not make it into the final Act (drilling in ANWR, for example). [3]. "Itemizing the anti-environmental provisions of the House energy bill is a mind-numbing exercise," Frank O'Donnell, president of the Clean Air Watch wrote, including "new loopholes that could reduce gas mileage requirements; weaker protections for coastal communities; tax breaks to promote more coal burning. And that's just the beginning." [4] O'Donnell continued, "Indeed, if the legislation became law in its current form, it would prolong smog problems in much of the nation, shift the burden of cleaning up poisoned water supplies from oil companies to cash-strapped public agencies, and even threaten environmental damage from some forms of renewable energy. These are on top of the well-publicized provisions that would permit big oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for a few months worth of oil that wouldn't reach consumers for a decade."

After President Bush signed the final form of the bill into law in July 2005, The Washington Post contended that the spending bill was really a broad collection of subsidies for United States energy companies; in particular, the nuclear and oil industries [5].

Speaking for the National Republicans for Environmental Protection Association, President Martha Marks said that the organization was disappointed in the bill: it did not give enough of a short to conservation, and continued to subsidize the well-established oil and gas industries that don't require subsidizing. [6]

In April 2005, the same month full committee mark-up on the bill began,[7] Barton was honored by The Annapolis Center (identified by The Wall Street Journal as a polluter front group) [8] for "work in [his] field supporting rational, science-based thinking and policy-making"[9]. The evening's keynote address was given by Fred Barnes, co-host of the "Beltway Boys" on the Fox News Channel.

Climate change

Barton is regarded as a "skeptic" on global warming [10]. Recently, prompted by a February 2005 Wall Street Journal article [11], he has taken an interest in climate change [12]. In June of 2005 Barton sent letters to three leading climate scientists—Drs. Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes—as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Science Foundation "questioning many aspects of a global warming study"[13]. This has been widely regarded as an attack on the scientists rather than a serious attempt to understand the science [14] [15], although some view it as a normal exercise of the committee's responsibility and an effort to make possible scientific debate on a subject within its jurisdiction [16] [17].

"The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—which rarely take stands on Congressional investigations—have sent letters of concern to Rep. Barton, as have 20 leading climate scientists. Fellow legislators of both parties also have criticized Barton's approach as "misguided and illegitimate" and "a transparent effort to bully and harass climate change experts who have reached conclusions with which you disagree." [18] [19].

Digital Television

Barton has also been involved in efforts to move local broadcasters to digital television formats:

"When Barton took over chairmanship of the Commerce Committee from Billy Tauzin in 2004, he hadn't been a player on media issues since battles over broadcasters' cable-carriage rights 10 years earlier. Back then, he became a hero to the cable industry by opposing the 1992 Cable Act, which burdened operators with carriage of every TV station in the country.

"Ironically, despite his continuing opposition to must-carry obligations, Barton added digital carriage obligations on cable in order to gain support of the pro-broadcaster faction on the Commerce Committee.[20]

Barton-Rush Act of 2006

In 2006 Barton partnered with Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) to create the Communications Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006. The COPE Act or "Barton-Rush" bill would allow major telephone companies to compete with cable television companies. It has also been widely critized for making net neutrality impossible, which could possibly lead to a multi-tiered Internet where some websites would move and load faster if they pay an additional fee to providers like Verizon and Comcast.[21]

The leading proponents of the COPE Act have been Verizon, Comcast, SBC Communications, Time Warner, and AT&T. Barton has a potential conflict of interest in that he stands to profit if SBC Communications makes money off of this bill, which it most likely will. Barton owns between $1,000 and $15,000 of dividends in SBC Communications according to his 2004 personal financial disclosure forms.[22]

SBC Communications is also Barton's 10th highest career donor having given Barton $51,109 since 1989.[23] For the 2006 election cycle Barton is the 14th highest recipient of money from the telecom industry.[24]

Pays wife for campaign work

In October 2006, the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit organization which advocates better transparency in government, reported that Barton’s campaign committee paid his wife $27,637 to serve as the campaign’s outreach director during 2005-2006. [25]



Barton was born in Waco, Texas on September 15, 1949. He received a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering in 1972 from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science in industrial administration from Purdue University in 1973. Barton then entered private industry until 1981 when he became a White House Fellow and served under Secretary of Energy James Burrows Edwards. He then consulted for Atlantic Richfied Oil and Gas Company before he was elected to Congress in 1984.

Barton won his Congressional seat in his first attempt, defeating Democrat challenger Dan Kubiak with 56% of the vote. He received 88% of the vote in 2000, 71% of the vote in 2002 against Democratic challenger Felix Alvarado, and 66% of the vote in 2004 against Democratic challenger Morris Meyer.

In 1993 Barton unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the United States Senate.

Health issues

Rep. Barton's office announced that on Thursday December 15, 2005 Barton suffered a heart attack and was taken to George Washington University Hospital.[26]

Congressional Career

Barton works "to promote lower taxes, more financial freedom and greater personal freedoms... protect our rights to medical, financial and Internet privacy and... to eradicate the marriage and death taxes, cut capital gains taxes and drastically reform the current tax code." [27]

Barton, a former consultant for Atlantic Richfied Co., serves as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He was the primary House author of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A number of his former staffers are now lobbyists for the energy industry. The Washington Post reported that, "In his quest for the chairmanship... A network of former Barton staff members-turned-lobbyists-including Jeffery M. MacKinnon (clients: Reliant Energy, Philip Morris, MCI and at least 36 others), Stephen Sayle (American Chemical Council, AT&T and 19 others) and Stephen Waguespack (Duke Energy, Ford Motor Co. and eight others)-worked the crucial corporate and trade association community on Barton's behalf." [Washington Post, 4/14/05]

"Since 1997, oil, gas, electricity, nuclear, coal and chemical companies have contributed $1.84 million to Barton, more than to any other House member." [Washington Post, 4/14/05]

Barton is a co-founder of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, co-sponsor of the anti-spyware SPY ACT

2006 elections

In 2006, the Democrats nominated David T. Harris to face Joe Barton in his November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [28] Barton retained his seat.

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00005656&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Joe Barton
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Contributions from Oil Companies

In the 2007-2008 period of the 110th Congress, Joe Barton has accepted $196,040 from oil companies and $135,549 of those dollars were from industry political action committees. In addition to that, he has accepted $834,386 from oil companies between 2000 and 2007. Also, he has accepted $121,050 from the coal industry, and $119,800 of those dollars were from industry PACS. See oil voting record above.[citation needed]

Contributions from Coal Companies

In late October 2010, during the lead up to the Congressional midterm elections, The New York Times reported:

Coal industry spending on campaigns and lobbying is substantial and growing, although it is dwarfed by the far better-financed oil and gas, electric utility, financial services and health care lobbies.
Among the largest recipients of coal money are Republican and Democratic members who have sponsored or voted for measures to block new E.P.A. regulations on climate cahnge pollution from the burning of coal and oil and who are most likely to support efforts to block other new rules.
These members include Representatives Roy Blunt of Missouri and Joe L. Barton of Texas, both Republicans, and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia and Rick Boucher of Virginia, both Democrats. Each had received more than $25,000 in contributions as of early October, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending.[5]

All fossil fuels

As of September 2011, Joe Barton has taken over $3,000,000 from donors connected to the utility, oil and gas, coal and mining sectors, according to That same month he supported the House Bill TRAIN (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation) Act, which would indefinitely delay clean-up of dangerous power plant air pollution, including mercury, soot, cancer-causing dioxins and acid gases.[6]

Committees and Affiliations


  • House Committee on Energy and Commerce - Ranking Member
    • Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
    • Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials
    • Subcommittee on Health
    • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
    • Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)


More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Joe Barton. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
2109 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-2002
Fax: 202-225-3052
Website Email

District Office- Arlington:
6001 West 1-20, Suite 200
Arlington, TX 76017
Phone: 817-543-1000
TollFree: 877-263-2833 (TX only)
Fax: 817-548-7029

District Office- Ennis:
2106 A West Ennis Avenue
Ennis, TX 75119-3942
Phone: 817-543-1000
TollFree: 877-263-2833 (TX only)
Fax: 972-875-1907

District Office- Whitney:
211 Brazos Street, Suite A and B
Whitney, TX 76692
Phone: 254-694-8488
TollFree: 877-263-2833 (TX only)

Campaign Address
Post Office Box 1444
Ennis, TX 75120
Phone: 972-875-8688

Articles and resources


  1. Sam Stein, "GOP Outraged by Shakedown BP Escrow Account, Apologizes to CEO,", "Huffington Post," June 17, 2010.
  2. Frank James, "Rep. Joe Barton Apologizes for His BP Apology,", "NPR News," June 17, 2010.
  3. Jay Bookman, "Barton's First Apology was the Sincere, honest one,", "Atlanta Journal Constitution," June 21, 2010.
  4. Roll call vote, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
  5. "Coal Industry Spending to Sway Next Congress" John Broder, The New York Times, October 29, 2010.
  6. Pete Altman, "The Top Ten Lethal Legislators and the Dirty Secrets Behind Their Clean Air Attacks" Climate Progress, Sep 26, 2011.
  7. "[1]"



Local blogs and discussion sites


Documents & News Releases

Related SourceWatch Resources

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. House of Representatives
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committees: House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 6, 1984
First Took Current Office:
January 3, 1985
Next Election:
November 2, 2010
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
None or Not Available
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. 6001 West 1-20, Suite 200, Arlington, TX 76017
Phone: 817-543-1000, TollFree: 877-263-2833 (TX only) / Fax: 817-548-7029
2. 2106 A West Ennis Avenue, Ennis, TX 75119-3942
Phone: 817-543-1000, TollFree: 877-263-2833 (TX only) / Fax: 972-875-1907
3. 211 Brazos Street, Suite A and B, Whitney, TX 76692
Phone: 254-694-8488, 877-263-2833 (TX only) / Fax:

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

1. Post Office Box 1444, Ennis, TX 75120
Phone: 972-875-8688 / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: September 15, 1949