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Exelon needs federal loan guarantees to back financing for a proposed nuclear power station that the firm wants to build in Victoria County, Texas, southwest of Houston. The nuclear power industry has sought to pressure lawmakers to expand the loan guarantee program for new plants nationwide. While Congress has authorized $60 billion for the guarantees, only 18.5 billion has been allocated by the Department of Energy for new nuclear plants over the next few years - far short of the industry’s demand for $122 billion.

Mr. Brown, the lawmaker’s spokesman, said Mr. Barton has “consistently and enthusiastically” supported more nuclear power plants for Texas as part of a strategy to become energy independent in an environmentally sensible way.

“To suggest that any donations from Exelon, whether to the foundation or to his political campaign, buys the company ‘unfettered access’ is patently ridiculous, since Mr. Barton has always championed what the company wants to do in terms of expanding nuclear power,” he said. “It is also important to note that the congressman has no power when it comes to permitting nuclear power plants at the state or federal level.”

Although the foundation has yet to donate any cash to the Meals-on-Wheels program, Mr. Faris said he received $25,000 from TXU Energy and $10,000 from BNSF to be credited to the Barton foundation. The program also received $25,000 in the name of the foundation from Sarah and Ross Perot Jr., who have donated to Meals-on-Wheels programs elsewhere in Texas and who, according to Federal Election Commission records, are longtime contributors to Mr. Barton’s campaigns.

“We have a pledge from the Barton foundation and an agreement that over time it will give directly to the program or raise other donations to meet the $500,000 figure,” Mr. Faris said.

TXU’s political action committee donated more than $62,000 to Mr. Barton’s political races since 2000, according to FEC records, and the BNSF political action committee contributed $58,500 to Mr. Barton in the same period. Spokesmen for TXU and BNSF did not respond to questions concerning their donations.

The Barton foundation was among several groups honored for their philanthropy during Nov. 6 ceremonies in Fort Worth sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The foundation was flagged for its pledge of $500,000 for the Meals-on-Wheels program.