The University of North Texas is usually considered a liberal university, The school is especially known for its environmental program and its emphasis on the environment. A study from the early 2000s found: “More than half (57 percent) strongly or somewhat agreed same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status, and 82 percent thought the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns….50 percent of University of North Texas students claimed to have “middle-of-the-road” ideology in a poll conducted by the Department of Political Science. Of more than 3,000 political science students surveyed, 24 percent said they have more liberal ideology than a conservative one (22 percent).”
However, the university’s political donations paint a different story. In 2006, the University of North Texas donated $8,850 to Michael Burgess (R, Tx). Hisother major donors included: AT&T, TXU Energy, Nestle USA, and Valero. He also received $10,000 from the famed Koch Industries in 2008. Burgess is well known for his anti-environmentalist voting record. In 2009, the League of Conservation Voters gave him a 0% rating. The LCV has given him a 5% rating for his career. Environment America also gave him a 0% rating in 08. Earlier this year, he voted no on setting aside money to insure clean water. He also voted with Republicans on “reforming” (read limiting) the Clean Air Act. OpenCongress noted that Burgess voted in favor of big oil companies on 100% of the time between 2005-2007.
Also in 2006, the University gave $4,500 to Kay Granger (R, Tx). Some of her top donors included Lockheed Martin, Dell, and General Dynamic. Granger received over $77,000 in 06 and a career total of over half a million dollars from the oil and gas industry. Open Congress writes: “Kay Granger has voted in favor for big oil companies on 80% of important oil-related bills. These bills include Iraq War Funding, Climate Change Studies, Clean Energy, and Ending Oil Subsidies.” Granger also voted against consumer protection from certain forms of lethal chemicals. Granger has also expressed opposition to gay marriage.
The university has spent over $150,000 in lobbying the federal government 6 different times since 2002. Steve Colovas is the lobbyist North Texas has been using, and he has been through the revolving door, now working for Congressional Solutions. He used to work for the both the Department of State and Department of Treasury.
I realize there are many reasons for a college to lobby and donate to candidates, mainly for funding (the university received a $3,600,000 earmark from the 111th Congress). However, it seems quite unethical for a school with a center-left student body (each paying an average of over $3,000 a semester) to donate to Republican candidates that do not represent the people who’s tuition is being spent. This doesn’t even mention the pure hypocrisy the University exhibits by pretending to care about the environment, and at the same time supporting candidates that care much more about the oil and gas titans that contribute to their campaigns than the environment.