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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.

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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