FactCheck.org: Obama statement "a little too slick"

The Web site says a claim in a new Obama ad is misleading.

By Alex Koppelman
Published April 2, 2008 4:44PM (UTC)
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Turns out Barack Obama may not be quite as free of oil company money as he claims.

In a new ad, Obama says, "I'm Barack Obama. I don't take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won't let them block change anymore." But FactCheck.org takes issue with that statement; in a look at the veracity of the claim, the site's Viveca Novak and Justin Bank write:

It's true that Obama doesn't take money directly from oil companies, but then, no presidential, House or Senate candidate does. They can't: Corporations have been prohibited from contributing directly to federal candidates since the Tillman Act became law in 1907.

Obama has, however, accepted more than $213,000 in contributions from individuals who work for, or whose spouses work for, companies in the oil and gas industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's not as much as Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has received more than $306,000 in donations from people tied to the industry, but it's still a substantial amount.

FactCheck also notes that two oil industry executives are serving as bundlers for Obama, soliciting donations from others. And, the site points out, another claim of his is dubious as well:

We've noted before that Obama's policy of not taking money from lobbyists is a bit of hair-splitting. It's true that he doesn't accept contributions from individuals who are registered to lobby the federal government. But he does take money from their spouses and from other individuals at firms where lobbyists work. And some of his bigger fundraisers were registered lobbyists until they signed on with the Obama campaign.

Even the campaign has acknowledged that this policy is flawed. "It isn't a perfect solution to the problem and it isn't even a perfect symbol," Obama spokesman Bill Burton has said.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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