Atrain carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3, leading to the evacuation of about 5,000 people.
Rescue workers blew holes in five railway cars carrying vinyl chloride, a potentially dangerous gas, allowing it to be destroyed via controlled burning.
The crash sparked a renewed interest in lobbying and campaign donations from railway-associated political action committees (PACs). It has emerged that the Trump administration rescinded a safety rule in 2017 following pressure from the industry. Steven Ditmeyer, a former senior figure at the Federal Railroad Administration, told investigative news outlet The Lever that this could have increased the “severity” of the accident.
PACs and individuals associated with the rail industry donated $3,190,763 in total to political candidates in 2021-22. This data comes from OpenSecrets, a non-profit organization that tracks the impact of money on American politics. Of this total, $1,764,695 was given to Republican candidates, $1,408,068 to their Democratic rivals.
OpenSecrets identified 16 railway-related PACs that had been donating to candidates, of which three gave at least $500,000 in total. These were the Union Pacific Corp, Norfolk Southern and BNSF Railway.
Newsweek has gone through the OpenSecrets data to list the five members of Congress who received more than $20,000 from railway-related PACs and individuals, during 2021-22. The analysis is based on statistics from the Federal Election Commission, which recorded all campaign donations of $200 or more.
There is no suggestion that any of these lawmakers behaved improperly, either in receiving or recording these campaign donations.