Fossil fuel-backed dark money group dishonestly blames Tester for higher consumer prices - TAI News
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(Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash.)

The tax-exempt political group One Nation is running ads that falsely suggest Montana Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is to blame for high consumer prices. Records indicate that the dark money committee has received significant funding from the fossil fuel industry.

Tester faces a competitive reelection race this November against Republican former business executive Tim Sheehy. One Nation, which is linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican strategist Karl Rove, announced in May that it plans to spend $70 million to support Republican Senate candidates in swing states. 

In early July, the group released a 30-second ad supporting a balanced budget act and claiming that Tester ignored warnings about inflation and voted for “trillions in wasteful spending.”

“Sen. Tester spent more. You paid more,” the ad says. “Groceries up 21%, rent up 24%, and gas up over 50%.”

One Nation is running similar attacks on Democratic senators in Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Consumer prices have risen in recent years, under former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. Economic experts attribute this largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted international supply chains, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“We only have to look at the still high inflation rates in most other advanced economies to see that most of this inflation period was really about global trends … rather than about the specific policy actions of any given government (though they did of course play some role),” economist Stephen Brown told CNBC on July 3.

While the group does not disclose its donors, a 2021 report by the nonpartisan government reform group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington noted that One Nation received $1 million from the gas and electric utility corporation Southern Company in 2020, $2 million from oil refiner Andeavor between 2016 and 2017, $1 million from oil and gas company ConocoPhillips in 2019, and $1 million from the fossil fuel industry trade group the American Petroleum Institute in 2019.

U.S. gasoline prices spiked in 2022, reaching an average of $4.929 per gallon that June. Fossil fuel companies saw record profits, prompting congressional Democrats to accuse them of price gouging and to propose a crackdown.

An anti-price gouging bill passed in the House of Representatives in May 2022 but died in the Senate.

According to a May 2024 analysis by the progressive Economic Policy Institute, average wage growth was higher than inflation every month for the previous 12 consecutive months.

Gasoline prices have dropped significantly nationwide since 2022: A gallon cost an average of $3.455 in June, nearly $1.50 cheaper than it did two years before.

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The Montana Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.