Big Oil Runs Ads For Scott Brown, Breaking ‘People’s Pledge’ Ad Ban

The oil lobby group American Petroleum Institute launched ads in Massachusetts late last week on behalf of Koch-funded candidate Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), as part of its $2 million national campaign to protect oil subsidies.

Unfortunately for Brown, the ads violate the “People’s Pledge” he made with Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren earlier this year, banning outside group spending in the race. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign manager Mindy Myers noted the oil-subsidy ads “are funded by big oil and clearly support Brown’s position”:

It has come to our attention that the American Petroleum Institute has been running radio and print ads to support Senator Scott Brown’s position on tax breaks for big oil companies. Given Senator Brown’s past vote in support of these tax breaks, and the fact that these ads are funded by big oil and clearly support Brown’s position on this issue, this is a violation of the People’s Pledge.

According to the agreement, when an ad runs the candidate who benefits must donate the sum to charity. This is already the second time Brown has cut a check because of outside groups supporting his campaign.


In addition to Massachusetts, API has run similar ads in six states to protect the industry’s billions in tax loopholes. In the ad, API falsely claims that raising taxes leads to higher prices at the pump, though a Congressional Research Service memo determines that eliminating tax breaks for big oil companies would have negligible impact.

The API ad ostensibly urged Brown to oppose a Senate bill repealing Big Oil’s tax breaks — a position he’s already taken. Brown already voted against repealing these subsidies last year.

The Warren-Brown deal may minimize dirty Super PAC tactics in their own race, but it doesn’t prevent outside group interests from dictating Brown’s voting record. Koch Industries has donated $15,250 to Brown’s campaign this cycle, and he’s taken in close to $200,000 from oil and gas during his career. Before he voted against the oil subsidy repeal last year, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Exxon contributed to Brown’s campaign.