Wednesday, August 30, 2006

EMAIL FROM THE TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN PARTY [from Nashville City Paper editorial]:

Certainly, Americans are at their wit’s end with the oil industry. Rising gasoline prices are changing how people run their businesses, take their vacations and lead their lives.

We are an oil-addicted nation, and it is beginning to impact our lives in ways we had never thought imaginable until gas prices at the pump began to soar and soar.

The national Democratic Party, though, has gone too far in their bid to win Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat in accusing a Tennessee company of being “big oil” and part of the country’s gas crisis.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) launched attack television advertisements last week against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Corker’s supposed ties to “big oil.”

The target of the attacks was Tennessee’s largest privately held company, Pilot Oil, based in East Tennessee, and its CEO, Jimmy Haslam. Haslam is also Corker’s campaign chair and a long-time supporter of the GOP in solidly Republican East Tennessee.

Branding Pilot Oil as “big oil” is a disingenuous political ploy that hopefully Tennesseans will see through as they make their way to the November general election.

The DSCC is the arm of the Democratic Party in charge of electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Their attacks on this Tennessee company are in tandem with Democratic Senate nominee Congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s own set of attacks on the Corker and Haslam connection.

Ford and national Democrats are glibly obscuring a few facts about Pilot Oil as well as their own ties to the oil industry.

As Haslam has explained to the state’s media, Pilot Oil is a gas retailer and has no control over the per-barrel price of crude oil or the world energy market.

Yet Pilot Oil is the largest seller of biodiesel fuel in the country and the largest seller of ethanol in Tennessee — both gasoline alternatives that national Democrats and Republicans have held out as possible solutions to our nation’s energy crisis.

In addition, the Corker campaign maintains the DSCC itself has taken six figures in campaign contributions from the oil and energy industry.

National Democrats and Ford should tell the whole story about Tennessee companies if they are going to make them part of the debate about who should lead the U.S. Senate. Yes, the Haslam family and Pilot Oil have done very well over the years. Haslam is also as politically active as a citizen can be without being a candidate himself.

But suggesting Pilot Oil in some way is partly responsible for the nation’s energy crisis and a “big oil” player on the world stage is simply unfair and inaccurate.


The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued the following statement on Bob Corker's efforts to cover up his relationship with the oil industry and divert attention from the fact that he is big oil's favorite senate candidate:

"Every time you pull up to a gas station in Tennessee, you see two signs: One says gas is $3 a gallon and the other says Bob Corker for Senate," DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said.

"Bob Corker has taken more money from the oil and gas industry than any other Senate challenger running this year. His campaign finance chairman is the CEO of Pilot Oil Company – a company that has given him nearly $35,000 in contributions.

"So who do you trust more to lower gas prices? Harold Ford, Jr. who has put out a plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, or Bob Corker who is bought and paid for by big oil?"

Well, Pilot and the Haslams may not be in control of crude oil prices, but they nevertheless are reaping the benefits of high oil prices. It seems apparent that Pilot's health is directly proportional to the health of the oil industry itself. The oil industry looks mighty healthy these days. Because Corker accepts big money from Pilot, and because Pilot's honcho is his finance chair, it would appear that "oil money" is front and center behind Corker.

While I am not in favor of going negative so quickly [and wonder whether the ad was cleared by the Ford campaign first], and while the spot itself is somewhat lurid, there is some truth to it.

I also wonder why Corker won't release his tax records. He only released a one page summary of income from 1976 through 2005. You gotta ask what he doesn't want us to see.

He did report almost $5 million in 2005. Yeah, I'm sure he can empathize with the average working person. Is this the case of another rich guy looking to buy public office?