The Obama campaign has started a petition aimed at forcing Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch, to release its donor lists to the public, proving the group's claim of running a grassroots-supported organization.
This latest move by the campaign is part of an ongoing battle between the Obama team and the Koch brothers.
In late February an email to Obama supporters described Americans for Prosperity as a "front group" and accused the Koch brothers of making millions by “jacking up prices at the pump." The email also claimed the Koch brothers have committed $200 million to destroying Obama before the November election.
Phillip Ellender, president of government and public affairs for Koch Industries, responded to the email with a letter addressed to Jim Messina, campaign manager for Obama's re-election efforts, disputing the accusations.
“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. Either you simply misunderstand the way commodities markets work or you are misleading your supporters and the rest of the American people," Ellender wrote.
The letter goes on to defend the organization as not being funded exclusively by the Koch brothers. “Rather it has tens of thousands of members and contributors from across the country and from all walks of life,” the letter stated.
As the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, Messina responded directly to Ellender’s letter, in which he scolded the Koch brothers' companies and organizations.
“What is known about the Kochs’ agenda and business practices would give most Americans pause. According to the Kansas City Star, Koch Industries has enriched itself by keeping oil off the market, storing it in offshore tankers and waiting to cash in when the cost of oil rises. The Koch brothers have also been vocal critics of the administration’s investments in clean energy alternatives. Our energy strategy cannot be set by what’s best for the pocketbooks of politically-connected oil and gas executives. It must be driven by what’s best for the American people, our economy, and our energy security,” Messina wrote.