President Obama's campaign seems to blame the Koch brothers for high gas prices, as his campaign manager attacked the oil magnates for "jacking up prices at the pump" and faulted Mitt Romney for participating in an event sponsored by an organization that they fund.
"Those are the same Koch brothers whose business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote to supporters, in order to explain an attack on Romney for speaking at an event hosted by "a front group founded and funded by the Koch brothers."
The Koch brothers have long been a focus of Democratic attacks, but this email seems to contradict at least one Democratic congressman's complaint about the Kochs.
During the Keystone pipeline debate before Christmas, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., suggested that Republicans only wanted the Keystone pipeline built because it benefited the Kochs. "[T]here's a terminal owned by the Koch brothers, [by] one of their corporate subsidiaries, located at the beginning of this pipeline up in Alberta, Canada, and then along the proposed route of this pipleline are other Koch brother refineries that will process [oil]," Johnson said on the House floor in December. In theory, increasing oil imports from Canada would lower the price of gas by providing a new supply, insulated from shocks in the Middle East.
A representative of the Kochs explained to Messina how the oil markets work. "We own no gasoline stations and the part of our business you allude to, oil and gas refining, actually lowers the price of gasoline by increasing supply," Phillip Ellender, President of Government & Public Affairs for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, wrote in an open letter to Messina.
President Obama seems to think share Ellender's understanding of the oil markets, even if his campaign manager pushes a different idea in fundraising letters. "Over the last three years, my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada," the president said Thursday -- apparenty defending himself from criticisms stemming from his decision to block the Keystone pipeline -- during a speech on his efforts to bring down the price of gas and increase American energy independence.