Truth Test: Ad paints Gardner with 'big oil'

KUSA - Environmentalists set out to chip away at Rep. Cory Garder's (R-Colorado) reputation by running an ad that portrays him as a puppet of big oil.

9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say. You can find the entire collection of Truth Tests here: To learn more about how political ads and fact-checking work on 9NEWS, please read these answers to our common questions and comments.

The ad aims to convince you that Gardner is "extreme," that most common attack in political ads.

The spot starts by pointing back to ads that started earlier this year produced by Americans for Prosperity against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado.)

LCV calls the AFP's effort a smear campaign, citing problems on screen that 9NEWS and other factcheckers identified with those ads.

Then the LCV ad jumps into some smearing of its own, targeting the people behind the ads.

CLAIM: "[The ads targeting Udall are] backed by the out-of-state oil billionaire Koch Brothers."


It's true the Koch brothers, David and Charles, supported the AFP anti-Udall ads. David started Americans for Prosperity.

But this claim also needs some context because of its loaded language.

The left has been trying to make boogeymen out of the Kochs for years.

Calling them "oil billionaires" might help with that, but it ignores the fact that the Koch brothers aren't just in your gas tank.

Their company, Koch Industries, does all kinds of other things. It runs cattle, makes fertilizer, and they're even in your bathroom, because they own paper giant Georgia Pacific.

CLAIM: "[The Kochs are] steering a million dollars into attack ads."


They certainly have a million dollars to throw into the Colorado Senate race if they want to, but as a 501(c)(4) organization, Americans for Prosperity isn't required to disclose its donors.

The Kochs donate. We don't know how much, who else donates, and how much "steering" they do of AFP's advertising dollars.

Which also raises the old saying about people in glass houses. Because the group throwing stones, the League of Conservation Voters, also runs a 501(c)(4) which means it doesn't have to disclose donors either.

And, by the way. LCV is spending $1 million on this attack ad.

CLAIM: "Congressman Gardner supports their [AFP, Kochs'] agenda."


AFP scores members of Congress, giving Gardner an 85 percent lifetime score.

Udall gets just 3 percent on AFP's issues.

It's worth pointing out that Gardner isn't the MOST in line with AFP.

Colorado Republicans Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn both scored higher than him.

CLAIM: "Gardner voted to keep giving billions in special taxpayer-funded subsidies to [big] oil companies."


It's true that Gardner has voted to keep tax breaks for oil companies.

However, some of those tax breaks like intangible drilling costs and percentage depletion have been around for a hundred years in one form or another.

That doesn't mean the tax breaks are right or wrong, but maybe they aren't as special or radical as the ad is trying to portray.

The Gardner campaign notes that Udall also voted against a measure to eliminate tax breaks for oil.

He indicated at the time that he didn't like the details of the proposal because it would have hurt smaller independent producers.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a dark money ad attacking other dark money ads and dragging Cory Gardner's name into the fray.

It's full of loaded language, but it does fairly point out that Gardner has a record that is generally more supportive of oil and gas than Mark Udall's.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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