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Mr. Crapo doesn’t appear to have benefited from big campaign donations from Open Range or its lobbyists, according to a review of Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, but Mr. Allison said such letters don’t always involve lawmakers doing favors for donors, but can be written in a “pro forma” sort of way in response to a meeting or request.

“What it shows is how poor stewards of the purse they can be,” he said. “These [congressional] offices don’t have the resources to vet a company.”