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The 2014 midterm elections are a little under two years from now but that's not stopping the American Petroleum Institute (API) is already putting the pressure on Democratic Senators who are up for re-election.  Jacob Fenton of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike:

http://www.philly.com/...

Less than a week after the presidential election, the American Petroleum Institute was on the air with a new TV ad campaign warning against the economic dangers of new energy taxes -- one of the possible revenue raisers being discussed as the nation hurtles toward the so-called "fiscal cliff." The Simpson-Bowles bipartisan commission recommended a 15-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax hike to help offset transportation infrastructure costs.

In a Nov. 13 news release, the API said the ads would "help educate Americans" and "encourage members of Congress" by running the ads "in selected states". What the press release did not provide were the names of the states or what they have in common: they are all politically red or purple states with Democratic senators who are up for reelection in 2014. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/30/12

You can learn more about the Sunlight Foundation here:

http://reporting.sunlightfoundation.com/

API has released two types of ads.  For Democrats like Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who hail from oil states, API has cut positive ads:

Begich:

Landrieu:

Both of these positive themed ads are meant to keep the pressure of Begich and Landrieu to not support the Bowles-Simpson 15-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax hike.  Now I don't support the Bowles-Simpson plan either but for much different reasons than why the API opposes it.  Now the API knows there are certain Senators who are up for re-election in in swing and red states who aren't big fans of the oil industry.  Senators like Mark Udall (D. CO):

Mark Warner (D. VA):

Tom Udall (D. NM):

Kay Hagan (D. NC):

And of course, Mark "You Don't Need To Pass An I.Q. Test To Be In The Senate" Pryor (D. AR):

Fenton talks about how the thin line between issue ads and endless campaigning is vanishing and how Sunlight is teaming up with other progressive groups to follow the money:

For years, political advertisers have benefited from a loophole big enough to drive a $10 million-dollar political campaign through. "Issue ads" that don't explicitly ask for a vote for or against a candidate, and don't run immediately before the election, don't have to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.

But new rules requiring about 15 percent of the country's broadcast TV stations to disclose these ad buys online are beginning to pull the veil off this secret spending. And, the documents help make clear, the line between "issue ads" and the endless campaign is vanishingly thin. Sunlight and other partners, including Free Press, are compiling the disclosures on our Political Ad Sleuth database. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/30/12  

You can learn more about Political Ad Sleuth here:

http://politicaladsleuth.com/

The oil and gas lobby spent $56.3 million in both lobbying and creating "issue ads" in 2010 pressuring congressmen who were up for re-election.  Sunlight research is currently working on wading through the numbers on the ad buy by the API in states like Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico.  In states like Alaska and Louisiana, none of the stations are required to put their political files online:

http://reporting.sunlightfoundation.com/...

Sunlight has determined though that API spent $200,000 on ads in the Denver market alone pressuring Mark Udall:


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In Colorado, where spots from both the API and several big unions have been airing, "we've already heard from constituents concerned that we're already running ads," said Mike Saccone, a spokesman for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall. Saccone declined to speak about campaign issues--he's a government employee and barred from campaigning during work hours--but he said that with the election roughly two years away a campaign spokesman hadn't yet been hired.


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Regardless of how much interest groups spend staking out their claims, the ads aren't helping fix the problem, Saccone said. The Colorado senator "has been clear that there needs to be flexibility when dealing with the fiscal cliff -- whether it's oil and gas or unions -- rigidity and a failure to come together and compromise is frankly how we got into the situation." - Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/30/12

Both Udalls, Warner and Hagan have supported ending tax breaks for oil companies so they are going to be the four main Democrats big oil is going to spend a lot of money on trying to out in 2014.  Begich and Landrieu won't vote to end tax breaks for oil companies, given where they hail from, but Begich has also supported federal funding in alternative energy so they'll be gunning for him as well.  If API wants to get a head start with it's propaganda campaign, I say we get a head start as well for 2014.  Help give these guys the resources they need in 2014 to fight back against big oil:

Mark Udall:


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https://secure.actblue.com/...

Tom Udall:


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https://secure.actblue.com/...

Kay Hagan:


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https://secure.actblue.com/...

Mark Warner:


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https://secure.actblue.com/...

Mark Begich:


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https://secure.actblue.com/...

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Originally posted to pdc on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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