Just one month after he was named Mitt Romney's top energy adviser, Oklahoma billionaire Harold Hamm contributed $985,000 to the top pro-Romney Super PAC -- a donation that was the second largest the group collected in April, according to a new campaign disclosure filing today.
The cash infusion from Hamm, the chairman and CEO of Continental Resources -- a firm that touts itself as "America's Oil Champion" -- is a new example of how big Super PAC donors can make their policy views heard by the campaigns they are supporting.
Hamm, whose company is the largest leaseholder of the Bakken, the giant shale formation in North Dakota, has been an outspoken critic of President Obama's energy policy, including his decision to postpone the Keystone pipeline and push legislation to curb tax breaks for oil exploration.
After meeting Obama at a White House event last July, Hamm complained the president "blew him off" after he tried to press him about the abundance of domestic oil supplies, according to a Business Week story last January. "It was like, 'if you’re in the oil and gas industry, you don't matter,'" Hamm was quoted as saying in the story headlined, "The Man Who Bought North Dakota."
On March 1, Romney -- during a campaign stop in Fargo, North Dakota -- announced that Hamm would serve as chairman of the candidate's "Energy Policy Advisory Group" charged with developing a new "pro-jobs, pro-market, pro-American" energy agenda, according to a statement put out by the campaign that day. Hamm said in the statement he was backing Romney in part because he was "acutely aware" of "how outrageously [Obama] has attacked energy producers in particular."
On April 3, Hamm made his $985,000 contribution to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney Super PAC, the group reported today. That accounts for a little more than one-fifth of the $4.6 million the group raised last month.
Hamm had already contributed $2,500 -- the legal maximum for the primary season -- to the Romney campaign last October, as well as $61,600 to the Republican National Committee in two installments in last September and this February.
But the huge new donation to the Romney Super PAC -- which can accept unlimited contributions -- could potentially raise questions about the connections between his donations and his role in shaping campaign policies that might benefit his company. So far, the campaign has not publicly disclosed the other names of the energy advisory group, making it impossible to determine whether they have also given money to the Super PAC or the campaign.
“We haven’t announced it yet,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email when asked the names of other members of the campaign energy advisory group. A spokeswoman for Continental Resources, Hamm's company, declined to answer any questions about Hamm's role in the Romney campaign, referring a reporter to the campaign itself.