Blanche Lincoln Targeted for Oil Industry Donations

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., prior to a news conference on Wall Street Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg) AP Photo/Harry Hamburg

Updated 2:05 p.m. Eastern Time

In one of the first television ad of the 2010 campaign focusing on the BP Gulf oil spill, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has come out with a television ad targeting incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln in her battle for re-election in Arkansas.

Lincoln faces Lt. Governor Bill Halter in a runoff election on Tuesday for the Democrat nomination for her Senate seat.

The ad starts with video of animated cash flowing from the capitol dome before showing Lincoln. She's joined by pictures of former President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney before the BP logo appears.

"Big oil has another gusher, but this time its tens of millions in campaign cash. Over the last two years, Blanche Lincoln has taken more oil and gas money than any other U.S. senator, over half a million dollars since elected," says the announcer.

The ad ends by tying Lincoln's fate to the oil and gas industry. "It's time to send big oil a message, on Tuesday, send Blanche Lincoln packing," says the announcer. The ad will run on television and cable in Little Rock.

Blanche Lincoln
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., prior to a news conference on Wall Street Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
AP Photo/Harry Hamburg
LCV has hit Lincoln hard all year. Earlier in the year, the group named her one of the "Dirty Dozen" in Congress for her ties to the oil and gas industry.

"Blanche Lincoln is among the biggest winners when it comes to Big Oil's campaign cash, but next week Arkansas voters can make her the biggest loser," Gene Karpinski, LCV Action Fund president, said in a statement.

"The Gulf Coast disaster is proof enough that Big Oil can't be trusted with our nation's energy future and Arkansas families deserve better than a senator who sides with BP and other oil companies at the expense of a more sustainable, secure economy and a cleaner, safer environment," Karpinski added.

The group endorsed Halter, her challenger, in April.

In backing up its claim, LCV cites the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign cash, for ranking Lincoln the number one recipient of oil and gas campaign donations this cycle and in the past.

"She has taken over $550,000 from the Oil & Gas industry over the course of her entire career, including $12,000 from BP's political action committee since the 2001-02 election cycle," LCV says. "She opposes comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, despite the fact that it will create new energy jobs, reduce our dangerous dependence on oil and curb harmful carbon pollution."

LCV is the latest liberal group to come out against the two-term incumbent, joining the AFL-CIO and progressive groups like MoveOn.org in working to defeat her re-election bid.

A spokesperson for the Lincoln campaign says that campaign contributions play no role in the senator's public policy decisions.

"This ad is nothing new, just more lies from another outside group seeking to malign Sen. Lincoln's record and bully voters into their agenda," spokeswoman Katie Laning Niebaum told CBS News. "The non-partisan Factcheck.org project has debunked these claims, describing an identical ad by a D.C. Union as 'Labor Falsely Attacks Lincoln. Again.' These outside groups don't care about what Arkansans think, only about their own priorities."

Factcheck.org has evaluated claims in other ads against Senator Lincoln. Those ads and the LCV ad repeat similar facts that are disputed by their analysis, which can be found here.


Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.

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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.

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