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Democrat Warren faults GOP's Brown on energy vote

By Steve LeBlanc
Associated Press / March 29, 2012
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BOSTON—Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren is faulting U.S. Sen. Scott Brown for opposing a measure that would have ended $4 billion in tax subsidies to oil companies.

Brown sided with fellow Republicans and four Democratic senators in voting against the measure Thursday. Two Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine -- supported ending the subsidies.

The Senate vote was 51-47, short of the 60 votes necessary to pass the Democratic bill.

Warren campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney said the vote shows Brown is placing the needs of the petroleum industry over Massachusetts drivers.

"Scott Brown again is siding with Big Oil, helping the richest, most profitable companies in the world get billions of dollars more in tax breaks and loopholes while consumers are getting hammered," Harney said in written statement.

Brown said he opposed the measure because it would do nothing to reduce rising gas prices at the pump.

"With gas prices nearing $4.00 a gallon, we must work together across party lines to implement an all-of-the-above approach to our national energy policy," Brown said in a statement.

Brown faulted Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not allowing the Senate to consider amendments that Brown said would have helped better address the nation's energy woes, including construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project.

"Instead, what happened this week was just more politics as usual," Brown said.

President Barack Obama urged support for the bill ending the subsidies, arguing that Americans are getting hit twice -- once at the pump, and once by sending billions of dollars in tax subsidies to oil companies.

"Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double-down on investments in clean energy technologies that have never been more promising," Obama said Thursday.

The vote came just hours before Brown announced he would write a $34,545 check to charity after the oil and gas industry's main lobbying group ran advertisement urging Brown to oppose legislation they said would raise taxes on energy producers.

The radio and print ads by the American Petroleum Institute broke a deal Brown signed with Warren designed to keep third-party ads out of the Massachusetts Senate campaign.

Under the agreement, the candidate who benefits from the ad must write a check for half the cost of the ad campaign to a charity named by the other candidate.

Brown said the $34,545 is half the amount of money spent on radio ads from March 24 to March 27 but does not include a full-page ad in the Boston Globe. Brown said the deal only applied to radio, TV and online advertising.

Brown said that what he called "issue-specific advertising" was not covered by the original deal, but he agreed to include the ads in the terms of the agreement.

"I am pleased to uphold my end of the bargain," he said.

It's the second check Brown has written under the agreement.

Warren named the Autism Consortium as the recipient of the first $1,000 check.

Brown wrote that check after the Coalition of Americans for Political Equality, a political action committee that supports Brown, posted an online ad backing him.

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