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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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