New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen is hitting her likely opponent for the U.S. Senate, Scott Brown, in a new TV ad over the Republican's ties to "Big Oil"—even while Shaheen invests in energy companies herself.
The 30-second spot from Shaheen's campaign says Brown, while representing Massachusetts in the Senate, voted to give companies in the oil industry "$20 billion in taxpayer subsidies."
"Big Oil gave Scot Brown thousands of dollars within days of his votes," the voiceover continues. Watch the ad below:
Brown's votes, in 2011 and 2012, were against bills that would have ended tax subsidies for energy exploration. Nearly every Senate Republican voted against ending those subsidies, and even some Democrats, like Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich, joined the GOP on those votes.
Shaheen, meanwhile, invests in some of the same oil companies her ad decries as "Big Oil." On her 2013 financial disclosure forms for the U.S. Senate, Shaheen reports her husband is invested in a mutual fund called Thornburg Value R5, an investment worth up to $100,000. The fund invests in a few oil and gas companies, including Chevron, Inpex (a Japanese firm), Weatherford International, and a French energy corporation called Total SA.
Total is notable in that the firm was charged by American and French authorities last year over an "international bribery scheme" related to the company's attempts to enter the Iranian oil market. According to the Justice Department, Total bribed an Iranian official in exchange for access to oil fields in that country to use for development. The company agreed to pay over $245 million in fines to the U.S. government as part of a penalty deal. Here's more from Justice:
In sum, between 1995 and 2004, at the direction of the Iranian official, Total corruptly made approximately $60 million in bribe payments under the agreements for the purpose of inducing the Iranian official to use his influence in connection with Total’s efforts to obtain and retain lucrative oil rights in the Sirri A and E and South Pars oil and gas fields. Total mischaracterized the unlawful payments as “business development expenses” when they were, in fact, bribes designed to corruptly influence a foreign official. Further, Total failed to implement effective internal accounting controls, permitting the consulting agreements’ true nature and true participants to be concealed and thereby failing to maintain accountability for assets.
The Shaheen ad suggests the Democrat may sense the race between herself and Brown is tightening. After trailing considerably in the polls for several months, Brown has now found himself within striking distance. One recent poll found Shaheen leading Brown by just two points after the Republican ramped up his attacks on President Obama's immigration record—and Shaheen's closeness with the president.