American Petroleum Institute Ads Targeting Senators For Re-Election ‘Not Related To Campaign Activities’

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the trade association for the oil and gas industry, has launched a new radio and print ad campaign in seven states opposing Democratic efforts to eliminate subsidies for the petroleum companies and then urge voters to call key home-state senators.

The Washington Post reported that API spokesman Reid Porter said the ad campaign was “based on public policy currently being debated before the U.S. Senate” and “not related to campaign activities.”

The ads are running in Missouri, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Maine and Nevada from March 24–27. Six of those states will see fiercely-contested Senate races this November. The seventh, North Carolina, will likely see a close Senate race in 2014. The 2012 races are:

MA: Sen. Scott Brown (R) won a 2010 special election and is seeking a full term — ME: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is retiring, leaving an open seat — MO: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is seeking re-election — NE: Sen. Dean Heller (R) is seeking a full term — VA: Sen. Jim Webb (D) is retiring, leaving an open seat — WV: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) won a 2010 special election and is seeking a full term

Some of the ads mention both of the state’s senators, but others mention only one senator.

In the four states that have an incumbent running for re-election — Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, and West Virginia — the API ads mention that senator alone. And the North Carolina ads mention only Sen. Kay Hagan (D), the incumbent up for re-election in two years. In the two states with an open-seat election — Maine and Virginia — the ads mention both senators.


Sen. Brown’s campaign conceded the ads have an effect on the Massachusetts senate campaign, in his favor. The Massachusetts Republican will make a donation to a charity of his opponent’s choosing, in accordance with an agreement between their two campaigns.