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GOP secretary of state candidates promote George Soros conspiracy

The Republicans vying for the secretary of state's office is sounding the alarm on the campaign trail: George Soros is trying to buy the office.

Ed Goodwin, a Chowan County commissioner, recently told a voter forum that Soros, a billionaire financier who donates prolifically to liberal causes, is trying to elect Democrats to the post so he can exert control on the state's elections. "We have to be very careful of that," he said. 

His rival in the July runoff election, Kenn Gardner, chimed in: "I have no doubts that he had money that goes to Elaine Marshall," the incumbent Democrat.

In PolitiFact parlance, the candidates would get a Pants On Fire ruling from the Truth-O-Meter.

Rep. Jones' opponent elaborates on George Soros connection

Frank Palombo’s congressional campaign takes exception with Dome’s recent characterization of his criticism of Rep. Walter Jones’ connection to a task force that recommended big cuts in military spending. Dome had to laugh that Palombo was tying Jones to liberal financier George Soros, who had connections to many of the task force members.

“Frank Palombo has never claimed George Soros and Congressman Walter Jones are friends,” campaign operations manager Ingrid Johansen said today. “We are simply pointing out the facts.”

The task force recommendations were not acted on, and Jones said he didn’t support its findings. “Congressman Jones’ attempts now to disassociate himself from the Sustainable Defense Task Force are too little too late,” Johansen said in an email.

 Still, does that connect the Republican congressman with the liberal Soros? The voters will decide, she said.

Rep. Jones and George Soros = best friends? Not!

You might say former New Bern police chief and current congressional candidate Frank Palombo is stretching a bit when he in a news release ties North Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones to “left-wing radical George Soros.”
Here’s how he does it:
Jones joined Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul and liberal Rep. Barney Frank of Massachussetts in requesting a task force on military spending. A year and a half ago it recommended nearly $1 trillion in Pentagon cuts over 10 years.
Conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck helped out by coming up with a report that 11 of the 14 members of the task force represent groups that Beck says receive funding from liberal philanthropist Soros.
So, we have Jones and Soros as best friends forever. The only problem is, Jones didn’t agree with what the task force recommended. And the recommendations were pretty much dead on arrival.

His office released this statement today to Dome:

“The Sustainable Defense Task Force was created during the now defunct Simpson-Bowles Commission to give suggestions on where we need to cut waste all across the board.  The recommendations I received from the SDTF, like cutting strategic weapons systems instead of overseas bases and procurement reform, were simply unacceptable and I flat-out rejected all of the recommendations.”
Jones reports having raised $145,596 cash at the end of last year, while Palombo raised $19,496.

Correction: Soros and Majority Action

George Soros did not "create" Majority Action.

Under the Dome has previously described the billionaire financier as the founder of the 527 organization currently running a TV ad attacking U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. That is incorrect.

The group was founded in 2005 by Democratic political consultants Mark Longabaugh and Donnie Fowler. It currently is run by Longabaugh and consultants Bill Buck and Meghan Gaffney. 

Initial funding for the group came from the United Food & Commercial Workers Union and the Service Employees International Union as well as wealthy donors such as Texas philanthropist Linda Pritzker, New York apartment manager Adam Rose and Soros.

According to forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Soros gave $170,000 in 2006, making him the second largest donor after the SEIU, which gave $300,000. 

Because of Soros' backing, Majority Action has often been lumped in with a number of other 527 organizations that he helped fund in the 2006 cycle.

However, he has not donated to the group since 2006.

Dome regrets the error. 

Claims Dept: Dole's votes on oil

Majority Action, a liberal 527 group created by two Democratic political consultants, is running a TV ad attacking U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's record on oil issues.

What it says: The ad flashes corporate logos as ominous music plays and a narrator talks about Dole's record. "Chevron, $18.7 billion. BP, $20.8 billion. ExxonMobil, $40.6 billion. Big oil companies are making billions at our expense. And where has Elizabeth Dole been? In Washington, taking over a quarter-million in campaign cash from Big Oil and voting to give them billions more in tax breaks. Tell Elizabeth Dole we need lower fuel costs, not billions for big oil." Text on the screen reproduces phrases from two news articles: "Big Oil's Big Windfall ... a minimum of $7 billion and as much as $28 billion" and "$2.6 billion for oil and gas industries."

The background: Oil companies drilling on federal land typically pay a royalty fee.

In 1995, Congress created a royalty relief program for oil companies to spur production in the Gulf of Mexico. Waivers granted between then and 2000 added up to at least $7 billion in lost revenue for the federal government.

Dole was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002.

As part of an omnibus energy bill in 2005, Congress extended some of the royalty relief provisions by another five years, but it cost far less than the previous measure. Dole voted for that bill.

Though an exact figure is not available, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the extensions and several other provisions in the 2005 bill would cost the federal government about $200 million over the following five years.

(Update: The U.S. Department of the Interior says it has so far cost the goverment nothing.)

Apart from royalty relief, the 2005 energy bill included $2.6 billion in tax cuts for oil and gas companies, but it also included $2.9 billion in tax hikes — a net tax increase for the industry.

Congressional budget analysts say they do not consider the royalty relief program to be a "tax break," although it has a similar effect on the federal budget.

Dole has received $266,456 in campaign contributions from people associated with the oil and gas industry since 2002 and another $35,000 from oil and gas companies' political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bill Buck, executive director of Majority Action, defended the ad, but did not offer any other specifics.

"We assert that Senator Dole voted for billions in tax cuts for the oil industry because it is true," he said in an e-mail to Dome.

Is the ad accurate? In large part, no. The ad does not back up its claim that Dole has given "billions ... in tax breaks" to oil companies. The $7 billion figure cited is wildly inaccurate, since it refers to legislation from before Dole's time in the Senate and is not even properly termed a "tax break." The $2.6 billion figure is also misleading, since it leaves out the offsetting tax hikes in that bill.

Correction: An earlier version of the post incorrectly described its founders.

Some famous donors for Hagan

Some interesting names from Kay Hagan's donor list:

* Carl Icahn, of New York, billionaire financier and current scourge of Yahoo!, gave $4,600 last December.

* Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty, of Washington, D.C., former Clinton White House spokesman, gave $2,300 in mid-March.

* George Soros, of New York, billionaire financial speculator and philanthropist, gave $2,000 in mid-June.

* Phil Spector, of Pasadena, legendary music producer, gave $250 on June 27.

Though Spector is a frequent donor to presumptive Democratic candidate Barack Obama, his donation was problematic since he is currently waiting for a retrial in a noted murder case.

The Hagan campaign refunded the Spector donation three days later.

A campaign spokeswoman had no comment.

Claims Dept: 527 ad on mileage standards

Majority Action, a liberal 527 group funded by investor George Soros, ran a radio ad last weekend that attacks U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's record on mileage standards.

What it says: "Gas prices are over $4 a gallon, and if you’re traveling this holiday weekend one person you can thank for your higher fuel costs is Elizabeth Dole. In July of 2003, Dole voted against raising fuel mileage standards for our cars and trucks. If Dole had voted to raise mileage standards then, they would be taking effect today and North Carolina families could be saving $1,600 or more on fuel costs every year. Dole has also taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry and voted to give oil company giants like ExxonMobil billions in tax breaks."

The background: In 2003, the U.S. Senate debated a mammoth energy bill for more than two months. One amendment to the bill would have raised mileage standards on new cars, trucks and SUVs by specific benchmarks over several years, including 32 miles per gallon in 2008.

Dole voted against that amendment, which failed by nearly a two-thirds vote. She voted for a different amendment that would have left mileage standards up to the U.S. secretary of transportation.

In the end, both amendments were a moot point, since the bill never came to a vote.

According to a 2006 U.S. Department of Energy report, the average vehicle in the United States gets 20.2 mpg. In theory, a household with two cars both going the average 12,408 miles a year could save more than $1,600 a year on gas if they got 32 mpg instead.

Still, that presumes that the family replaced both cars and did not change its driving habits.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dole has received $261,456 from the oil and gas industries since her election in 2002.

But as has reported, while the 2005 energy bill that Dole supported had $2.6 billion in tax cuts for oil and gas companies, it also had $2.9 billion in tax hikes for those same companies — a net increase of $300 million over 11 years.

Is the ad accurate? It's a stretch.

Democratic 527 airs ads against Dole

A liberal group is airing ads that target U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Majority Action, a 527 group started in 2005 with help from investor George Soros, is spending $25,000 to $30,000 airing radio ads statewide this week that highlight Dole's record on gas-related issues.

Dole's campaign noted its earlier call for Democratic rival Kay Hagan to disavow third-party ads.

"Now we know why Kay Hagan refused to disavow third party attack groups — she's been planning on using them all along," said Dole spokesman Hogan Gidley in a statement.

He noted that Majority Action uses the same law firm as Hagan's campaign, Perkins Coie.

But Bill Buck, a Democratic consultant who serves as executive director of Majority Action, said the group has no ties to Hagan's campaign and is simply an "issue advocacy" ad.

"Perkins Coie is a huge national firm with a ton of clients," he said. "That's a goofy statement to make."

Majority Action is also airing ads targeting Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, who faces a tough re-election fight. Buck said they have not decided whether they will air more ads in North Carolina. 

The group has also received money from the Service Employees International Union, which is taking an increasingly active role in North Carolina races.

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