Is your gas money funding attack ads?

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By: Nick Nyhart, president, Public Campaign Action Fund

On April 11, the New York-based United Refining Company (URC) wrote a $25,000 check directly from company coffers to Restore Our Future, the super PAC aligned with presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It’s the second check from the company, which handed over another $25,000 in January.

The chairman and CEO of United Refining is billionaire John Catsimatidis, who has donated $2,500 directly to Romney’s campaign and hosted a fundraiser for him in March. His wife Margo and daughter Andrea each donated $2,500 to the campaign too. Catsimatidis has given big bipartisan money over the years, totaling at least $279,000 to federal candidates and committees since 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But this isn’t a donation from Catsimatidis’ bank account. It’s from the company. And while people may not know what URC is, there’s no doubt drivers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York have filled up their gas tanks at the company’s Kwik Fill or Country Fair gas stations and convenience stores. In fact, URC owns and directly operates 375 retail locations across those three states.

Or, in other words:

The hard-earned money that families are spending to fill up their tanks or to buy a gallon of milk is going directly to fund political attack ads. URC owns these stations--they aren’t franchises.

Public Campaign Action Fund will email its online activists in those states today, urging them to sign a petition that demands United Refining to stop using their gas money to fund attack ads.

Pennsylvanians and Ohioans will no doubt see a barrage of political ads this year and we bet they won’t be happy knowing the cash they are throwing away at the pump is funding them.