When my family back in Pennsylvania turns on the TV these days, they may see this Barack Obama TV ad where he’s standing in a gas station saying the following:
"Since the gas lines of the ’70s, Democrats and Republicans have talked about energy independence, but nothing’s changed — except now Exxon’s making $40 billion a year, and we’re paying $3.50 for gas.
I’m Barack Obama. I don’t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won’t let them block change anymore. They’ll pay a penalty on windfall profits. We’ll invest in alternative energy, create jobs and free ourselves from foreign oil. I approve this message because it’s time that Washington worked for you. Not them."
Factcheck.org today takes a look at Obama’s claim to not take money from oil companies and concludes that the statement "misleading" since according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics Obama has taken more than $213,000 from individuals (and their spouses) who work for companies in the oil and gas industry — not to mention that two of Obama’s top fundraisers are top executives at oil companies"
It is literally true that Obama doesn’t take money from oil companies. No federal candidate does — corporations have been banned from direct contributions since 1907.
The Obama campaign points out that the senator doesn’t take money from PACs or from lobbyists. Factcheck.org calls that a "distinction without very much of a practical difference. Political action committee funds are pooled contributions from a company’s or an organization’s individual employees or members; corporate lobbyists often have a big say as to where a PAC’s donations go. But a PAC can give no more than $5,000 per candidate, per election. We’re not sure how a $5,000 contribution from, say, Chevron’s PAC would have more influence on a candidate than, for example, the $9,500 Obama has received from Chevron employees giving money individually."
(Sen. Hillary Clinton has taken $306,000 in donations from people in the oil and gas industry, incidentally.)
So is it all just a lot of gas?