By Will Evans, Center for Investigative Reporting
The Secret Money blog is a joint project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio.
Click here to listen to the Colorado ad.
A new advocacy organization with strong ties to the oil industry is funding pro-drilling radio ads, including one criticizing the energy votes of Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Mark Udall.
The recently formed American Energy Alliance is run by Thomas Pyle, a former aide to Republican Tom DeLay who recently lobbied for the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and Koch Industries.
The group supports free-market energy policies, including increased offshore oil drilling. Its ad says, “Gas prices are hurting Colorado families. But Congressman Mark Udall has voted 34 times against additional energy exploration and production.” The ad cost nearly $200,000 according to the group’s government filing.
The Alliance also has a new radio ad praising Mississippi’s Republican senators, and previously ran ads against Udall and his cousin, Democratic New Mexico Senate candidate Tom Udall.
American Energy Alliance is an offshoot of the Institute for Energy Research, also run by Pyle, who served as a policy analyst for DeLay when he was House majority whip. A 501(c)(3) organization, the Institute received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2007 and $65,000 the year before. ExxonMobil is no longer a funder, according to the organization. The Institute is also running radio ads promoting drilling.
The Institute has also received money from the Brown Foundation, which was started by the founders of the construction and energy company Brown & Root; the Searle Freedom Trust, funded by the late conservative philanthropist Daniel Searle; and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is run by executives of Koch Industries, an oil industry giant.
Wayne Gable, who lobbied for Koch Industries along with Pyle, is on the board of both the Institute and the Alliance. Koch is also behind the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which has run pro-drilling ads in Senate races.
Several staff members of the Insitute, including Pyle and American Energy Alliance board member Lisa Wallace, previously worked for former Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), who ran the House Committee on Resources and was an arch enemy of environmentalists.