Politics & Government

Out of bounds! Clinton, Obama bend truth on contributions

Throw the flag against: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

What happened: Obama on Friday began running an ad in Pennsylvania touting his record and his promises to reduce energy costs. The Illinois senator, standing at a gas station, says, "I'm Barack Obama, and I don't take money from oil companies or lobbyists, and I won't let them block change anymore."

Hillary Clinton's campaign replied that Obama was using "false advertising," as spokesman Phil Singer put it, adding, "The reality is that ExxonMobil, Shell and others are among his donors."

Why both campaigns are misleading: Clinton's campaign charges that Obama takes contributions from oil and other energy companies. He doesn't. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama has collected $163,840 from individuals who're employed by, or somehow connected to oil and gas companies. In all, Obama has reported collecting $193.7 million from all sources.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Obama, called the ad accurate. The Illinois senator "doesn't accept campaign contributions from special-interest PACs or Washington lobbyists, and that includes oil companies and oil lobbyists," she said. While that's technically correct, it obscures the fact that people with ties to the oil industry have contributed to his campaign.

Penalty: Clinton 10 yards for tripping.

Penalty: Obama 5 yards for illegal substitution.

— By David Lightman and Margaret Talev