Campaigns Slinging Oil Money Allegations

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 28, 2006

High gasoline prices and reports of record oil company profits sparked a barbed exchange yesterday between Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) and his Democratic opponent, James Webb.

After Exxon Mobil Corp. reported a record 36 percent increase in profits over this time last year, Webb called on Allen to return $800,000 in campaign contributions from oil and energy companies since 2000.

Webb said Allen has accepted the money, including $15,000 from Exxon Mobil's political action committee, while voting to approve tax breaks for oil companies.

"As gas prices soar out of control and Virginians struggle to make ends meet, George Felix Allen is giving fat tax breaks to Big Oil while they are making record profits," Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd said in a statement.

Todd also accused Allen of "lining his pockets with money made off the backs of hardworking Americans."

Dick Wadhams, Allen's campaign manager, fired back by pointing out that Webb, a former Reagan administration official, owns stock in Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp. Wadhams called Webb, a novelist who also has worked on movies in Hollywood, "a flaming hypocrite."

"Wealthy movie producer James H. Webb Jr. is personally profiting off the very oil companies he is today attacking," Wadhams said.

The exchange underscores the campaign's increasingly nasty tone. The Allen campaign has begun using Webb's "Jr." when referring to him, and Webb's campaign has responded by referring to Allen's middle name "Felix," which the senator reportedly doesn't like used.

Webb's financial disclosure reports were unavailable last night, but Todd confirmed that he owned "about $100,000" worth of stock in Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

Todd said Webb will put his stock holdings in a blind trust if he is elected to the Senate on Nov. 7.

"This isn't about Jim Webb's stock purchases," Todd said in the statement. "This is about the fact George Allen has given the Big Oil companies $18 billion in tax cuts over the years and has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from them. This means George Allen is beholden to them. He is at their behest. He is their puppet."

Allen also has received campaign contributions from BP PLC, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips Inc., Halliburton Co. and Occidental Petroleum Corp., according to the Webb campaign.

With polls showing voters frustrated over gas prices, the two sides are sparring over the issue.

In Northern Virginia, GOP Rep. Frank R. Wolf's challenger, Judy Feder (D), renewed her challenge yesterday for Wolf to join a debate on energy policy. Wolf officials said they already have agreed to two debates.

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