CONCORD — The battle between Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown and incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen over gasoline taxes ramped up Tuesday as a new ad by a major conservation group hit the television airwaves.
A new League of Conservation Voters’ television ad, first reported by the New Hampshire Journal last week, hits Brown as a benefactor of the billionaire Koch brothers’ spending on Americans for Prosperity issue advertising.
The ad says that Brown “voted to keep giving billions in special taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil companies, and concludes, “Out-of-state oil billionaires trying to elect an out-of-state politician. That’s good for big oil, but bad for New Hampshire.”
Brown’s campaign manager, Colin Reed, charged in a letter to LCV president Gene Karpinski, “your motive is very transparent: to give Senator Jeanne Shaheen political cover on the gas tax increase she supports.”
The Brown campaign and the New Hampshire Republican Party have been accusing Shaheen of backing a hike in the federal gas tax. Shaheen’s campaign has denied she supports such a hike, but at the same time has neither confirmed denied a Portsmouth Herald report last month that she included a gas tax hike as one of a variety of measures she feels is necessary to shore up the struggling federal highway fund.
In a later interview, Shaheen, however, said she did not support such a hike.
The NHGOP has pointed out that according to a news report from 1995, Shaheen, even as a state senator, wanted the state to look at raising the state gasoline tax in order to ease the burden of those who pay tolls on the state turnpike system.
Reed, in his letter, stated, “It’s no surprise you’re rushing to Senator Shaheen’s defense on the gas tax, as she has been one of your most reliable and dependable supporters over the years.
“She shares your commitment to imposing a new national energy tax on our country, and she also opposes the Keystone Pipeline, a common sense project backed by both parties that would lead to increased domestic supply of energy and create more good-paying jobs.
“Your candidate of choice, Senator Shaheen, supports higher gas taxes, and that’s why you’re running these ads against Scott Brown. But you owe it to the people of New Hampshire to be more honest with your attacks, and also more forthright about your motives,“ Reed wrote.
At the same time, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday that Brown, as a Massachusetts legislator, backed what became known as a “back-door” gas tax hike.
The Post reported that in 2003, then-Gov. Mitt Romney “decided to raise by a factor of five the half-cent per gallon gasoline tax that fuel suppliers paid into a fund for cleaning up underground storage tanks. Romney also decided to stop dedicating that money to cleanups, and Brown voted in favor of that budget.”
The League is spending about $369,000 on a two-week buy for the Koch-Brown ad on New Hampshire broadcast and cable television.
It is the second LCV ad of the cycle that criticizes Brown for opposing an end to oil company subsidies while in the U.S. Senate. The first aired early in the year, before Brown became a candidate for the seat.
Also Tuesday, the state GOP sent a fundraising email repeating chair Jennifer Horn’s earlier charge that Shaheen “is a proven liar” on taxes. Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley responded in a Twitter post: “What else can @NHGOP do but lie? Bad candidates, no message, flat broke. #lastgasp”