The Club for Growth, an anti-government advocacy group that has received significant funding from the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, launched a new ad this week smearing a North Carolina congressional candidate.
The politician’s alleged sin? Advocating for clean energy.
“Costly,” a 30-second spot funded by the group’s Club for Growth Action super PAC arm, is a highly misleading attack against Dan McCready, the Democratic nominee in September’s special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The ad notes that McCready both owns a solar energy business and once served on the board of a group that advocated for clean energy policies.
“How greedy is Dan McCready?” the spot’s narrator asks. “A tax-exempt special interest group McCready helped run pumped $450,000 into lobbying for costly state energy regulations that benefited McCready’s own business. Then, McCready handed you the bill. The cost to consumers here: $149 million a year in higher energy costs.”
While it is not unusual, illegal, or outside of any ethical norms for businesses and business leaders to support policies that benefit them, the Club for Growth and its long list of adjectives aim to make this seem scandalous.
The biggest issue with the ad is its dishonest sourcing. While making the claim that North Carolina’s clean energy regulations cost consumers $149 million annually, a small caption on the screen gives a citation to an article in the conservative Washington Examiner. But the article does not actually say that. Instead, its author noted: “Critics of the North Carolina renewable energy law claim the mandate could cost consumers up to $149 million per year in extra fees, while supporters of the law say it has created clean energy jobs and the actual consumer impact of the policy has been minimal so far.”
And who are those “critics?” The Examiner story cites a 2017 study that estimated that if rates rose 2.2% for residential customers due to an increased renewable energy standard, that would be the annual result. The study was done by professors at a Koch-funded Utah State University think tank and it’s off-campus Strata Policy.
In a statement to the Examiner, a McCready spokesperson said, “As a Marine and small business owner, Dan is proud of the role he played in making North Carolina the second in the nation for solar power, having helped build 36 solar farms that put 700 North Carolinians to work in good-paying jobs.”
Through their company and large web of tax-exempt special interest groups, Charles and David Koch funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to promote climate denial and to elect candidates who oppose regulations on fossil fuel refineries like the ones they own.