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Oil industry targets Hagan, Democratic senators with ad campaign

Sen. Kay Hagan is among the six Democratic senators being targeted by the American Petroleum Institute -- an oil and gas industry advocacy group -- with print, radio and TV advertisements during the lame duck session of Congress.

The goal of the ads is to build support in order to preserve tax breaks given to the industry while the much-hyped "fiscal cliff" is discussed over the next few weeks.

Oil industry ad campaign hits Obama, Kay Hagan

The oil industry is targeting North Carolina voters as part of a campaign to fight efforts in Congress to repeal some of its tax breaks.

The American Petroleum Institute announced a campaign last week to convince voters that higher taxes on the industry could lead to higher gas prices. The campaign calls it "another bad idea from Washington," particularly hitting President Barack Obama and North Carolina U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat.

As part of the campaign, the industry took a full-page advertisement in The Charlotte Observer and a radio advertisement (listen here).

News reports indicate the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the oil tax breaks Monday and it's unclear if Democrats have the votes to repeal the incentives, which are destined for renewable energy tax credits.

Morning Roundup: N.C. political landscape continues to evolve

The Democratic departures that continued Thursday with former House Speaker Joe Hackney are not coordinated --but lawmakers say the moves signal deep frustrations with the new GOP legislative leadership and a desire to avoid bruising re-election battles in unfavorable districts newly drawn by Republicans. Read more here.

The Democratic governor's race continues to evolve as Erskine Bowles said Thursday that he would not run for governor, but others moved to fill the void with former Congressman Bob Etheridge announcing his bid. Read more here.

Education's role as a prominent issue in the 2012 elections continues to increase. State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison is asking his members to champion public education in a political environment where lawmakers are increasingly open to alternatives. Read more here.

Speakers from the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm for the oil and gas industry, said Thursday that the energy industry's self-policing standards should serve as a model for how North Carolina can regulate natural gas exploration and "fracking." Read more here.

And a high-ranking law enforcement officer in the state Division of Motor Vehicles says his superiors planted a hidden tracking device in his state-issued car in hopes of finding something to use against him in a long-running personnel dispute. Read more here.

Energy bill prompts rallies

It’s not only health care that is prompting rallies and counter rallies across North Carolina during the August congressional recess.

On Thursday, Energy Citizens, a coalition of industry groups, will hold a rally at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, reports Rob Christensen. Greensboro is the home of freshman Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

The event is called “Rally for Jobs and Affordable Energy” and is one of a series of rallies being held in 19 states across the country.

The industry-sponsored rally centers on legislation in Congress designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions often called cap and trade.

Meanwhile, a counter rally will be held across the street by a coalition of groups that wants Hagan to support legislation backed by Obama administration, which says it will create clean energy jobs and lesson dependence on foreign oil.

Environmental groups and their allies were circulating a memo from the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of the oil industry, which is organizing the rallies.

The memo says, in part: “The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at those states’ U.S. Senators to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry.”

Mayors group sought corporate sponsors

A mayors group led by Pat McCrory sought out corporate sponsors.

The Republican Mayors and Local Officials 527 advocacy group, which the Republican gubernatorial candidate led from 2000 to 2005, advertised for corporate sponsors on its Web site.

"Wanted: Corporate sponsors," read one page

"The RMLO hallmark of promoting local governance and partnering with other elected officials at all levels is also extended to those who share RMLO's ideals, including Corporate Sponsors," McCrory wrote in a welcome message on the group's Web site.

Annual sponsorships cost $5,000.

Based on tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the following groups contributed in 2003: the American Trucking Association and the International Council of Shopping Centers each gave $5,000 and the Bond Market Association contributed $10,000.

In 2005, the shopping centers council, the American Petroleum Institute and the Edison Electric Institute each gave $5,000 and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association gave $10,000.

Other corporate sponsors listed on the group's Web site in 2003 include: the American Chemistry Association, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, DaimlerChrysler, Fannie Mae, Goldman Sachs, the National Rifle Association and Waste Management.

That and other pages are no longer available online, as the group appears to have let its Web site registration expire in September of 2003. The address was then briefly used by an outside company to advertise Internet porn (NSFW) and is now defunct.

They can be viewed on the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive. 

What is Republican Mayors and Local Officials?

A national advocacy group of Republican elected officials from the city level.

A national advocacy group of Republican elected officials from the city level.

In paperwork submitted to the Internal Revenue Service in 2002, the group described its mission:

To enable Republican officials elected at the municipal level to express, develop and preserve the philosophy of the Republican party in cities and towns across America and to support Republican positions and candidates.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was elected president of the group in December of 2000. He served in that capacity at least through 2005.

The group claims about 750 members, although tax forms indicate between 61 and 83 dues-paying members in 2001 and 2002.

Aside from $25 annual dues, the group was funded by corporations and PACs that paid $5,000 a year for an annual sponsorship, including the  the Bond Market Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the International Council of Shopping Centers and the American Petroleum Institute.

In McCrory's first two years in charge of the group, it overspent, reducing its cash reserves from $101,948 to just $5,790. By 2005, it had built them back up to $23,212.

As president of the group in 2004, he praised President George W. Bush at the Republican National Convention in New York City.

That speech was later cited in a TV ad by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beverly Perdue, who faced McCrory in the 2008 general election.

The group is organized as a 527 political advocacy organization.

Its Employer Identification Number is 52-1976233.

Oil and gas industry gave $266k to Dole

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole has accepted more than a quarter of a miillion dollars from oil and gas companies and their employees.

According to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, the Salisbury Republican has received $266,456 from people associated with the oil and gas industry since 2002. Of that, $102,827 — or roughly 39 percent — came in the past two years.

Dole received much more from other industries, however.

Over her career, she's received $2.6 million from retirees, $903,810 from lawyers, $853,063 from people in real estate and $747,736 from employees of investment firms. Donations from the oil and gas sector were 14th among industries who gave to Dole.

Donors include Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who gave $1,000 in April; and American Petroleum Institute president Red Cavaney, who gave $4,100 in 2007.

In addition, Dole has received $35,000 from oil and gas companies' political action committees since 2002, including $10,000 from Piedmont Natural Gas, $6,000 from ExxonMobil and $5,000 from Valero Energy.

Of that money, $30,500 came in the past two years.

After the jump, the contributions.

Burr's aide goes to lobbying and PR firm

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s chief of staff, Alicia Peterson Clark, has joined an international lobbying and public affairs consulting firm in Washington.

Peterson Clark will become a vice president and senior advisor for APCO Worldwide, the company announced.

She worked with Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives and re-joined him in the Senate. In between, she also worked for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and in the White House during Bush’s first term.

APCO Worldwide has a long list of clients that include Microsoft, Ikea and Procter & Gamble. The agency also has worked with the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, two key supporters of Burr. Bob Dole, the former senator from Kansas and husband of Sen. Elizabeth Dole of Salisbury, joined the firm several years ago as a senior counselor.

Replacing Clark in Burr’s office will be Chris Joyner, a former Burr staffer who is returning from the American Petroleum Institute.

Burr's chief of staff leaving

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr's chief of staff, Alicia Peterson Clark, will leave that post to take a job for a public relations firm in Washington.

Clark started with Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, during his House of Representatives days, serving as scheduler, press secretary and chief of staff, Barb Barrett reports.

She worked with with the Bush-Cheney campaign during the 2000 presidential race and in the White House during the first Bush term. She returned to Burr's Senate office as his chief of staff in 2005.

Replacing Clark will be Chris Joyner, Burr's former policy director. Joyner is returning to Capitol Hill from the lobbying world. He left Burr's office in March 2006 to work for the American Petroleum Institute, where he lobbied on energy issues.

Joyner will be back as Burr's chief of staff June 2.

"You always hate these things, but I knew she'd be here for only a finite period of time," Burr said about Clark’s departure.

"I'm looking forward to having Chris Joyner come back," Burr said. "From an office perspective, I don't think we’re going to miss a beat, because he was trained by Alicia."

Correction: An earlier version had some details incorrect. 

State gas tax maxes out

The gas tax has gone as high as it can go.

Under a limit set by the legislature, the state tax cannot rise higher than 30.15 cents per gallon.

The N.C. Department of Revenue would have set the rate higher—to 33.68 cents—if Gov. Mike Easley and the legislature had not agreed to cap it last year, Bruce Siceloff reports.

North Carolina's gas tax, its primary funding source for road improvements and other transportation needs, is one of the highest in the nation. As of July 2007, only 14 states had higher gas tax rates, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

But the state also sets its highway use tax on car sales lower than other states.

Expect Bill Graham, the Republican gubernatorial candidate who previously pushed for a cap on the gas tax, to make some hay with today's increase.

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