Liberal ad ties Iowa candidate to oil industry

A progressive group is using Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst’s upcoming oil-backed fundraiser to question her support for renewable fuels.

In a radio advertisement announced Monday, Americans United for Change says Ernst is the subject of a July 30 fundraiser hosted by Exxon Mobil Corp.’s political action committee, among others.

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“Big oil is spending millions of dollars to put Iowa ethanol out of business and leave us more dependent on their foreign oil,” the liberal group’s ad says.

“Funny thing is, Joni Ernst hasn’t said much at all about big oil’s greedy attacks on ethanol and Iowa jobs. Worse, Ernst says she’s “philosophically opposed” to farm policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Iowa, an agriculture-heavy state, has historically shown some of the strongest support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires that fuel refiners replace some of their traditional fuels with liquids like corn-based ethanol.

Americans United for Change says renewable fuels support 73,000 jobs in Iowa and took $1.09 off the price of a gallon of gasoline in 2011.

Ernst is running against U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D) for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin (D). Before running, she co-sponsored a state senate resolution urging the federal government to extend the RFS.

Americans United for Change cites the fundraiser to demonstrate that “big oil thinks Joni Ernst is on their side — and she sure isn’t refusing their money.”

The group is running the ad on WHO, a Des Moines, Iowa-based radio station.