Buying A Voice: American Energy Alliance

Gas price politics are pretty common to presidential elections, and 2012 will be no different. Several of you have asked us to find out more about an ad that blames President Obama for the hike in gas prices and predicts gas could get up to nine dollars a gallon.

The group behind the ad has shelled out more than $3 million dollars to put the commercial on TV across the country and they have their own agenda.

It was paid for by The "American Energy Alliance" (AEA).  They are the political activist arm of the "Institute for Energy Research" (IER).

The group boasts on their web site that their role is "encourage policymakers to support free market policies."

Spokesman Benjamin Coles said that AEA is a wholly owned subsidiary of IER. Despite their connection their fund-raising and spending are completely separate.

Both groups are not required to publicly reveal their donors. Coles said they track their funding very closely and have received numerous audits of their financial controls. The group however does not provide who specifically contributes to their operation. A legal practice.

The people running the group have ties to leaders in the oil industry, and fiscally conservative organizations, including their president Tom Pyle.

Pyle is a former employee of the Koch brothers, Charles and David. The Kochs are major donors to libertarian and free market causes. Politico reported in March that the Kochs plan on steering $200 million into conservative causes during the 2012 elections.

Cole said flatly that the Koch's have no connection whatsoever to the "Nine Dollar a Gallon" gas ad campaign.

Pyle started his political career as an aide to former republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who was eventually convicted of laundering money. While Delay is appealing his conviction, Pyle has never been accused of any type of wrong doing and has a spotless pubic service record.

But while numerous media outlets tie the Kochs and their allies to both the American Energy Alliance and the Institute for Energy Research, physical evidence of cash donations is hard to come by. Coles refutes many aspects of the Politico story, that relies largely on a 2008 IRS 1099 form, which is one of the few public records that ties the Kochs to AEA or IER.

Coles would not offer specific information about who donates to AEA. He said that the organization chooses to protect the identity of its donors, which is within their legal rights.

AEA does claim that more than 60% of their funding comes from individuals, not from corporations. However, the identity of those individuals remains secret.

We have detailed information about where we got our facts on Decision Virginia.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.