Schaffer, Udall spar over gas prices | AspenTimes.com

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Schaffer, Udall spar over gas prices

DENVER ” Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer and his Democratic opponent, Mark Udall, traded jabs over the nation’s gas crisis on Monday, accusing each other of being responsible for soaring gas prices.

Udall called a news conference to tell voters high gasoline prices aren’t going away and drivers need to be more fuel efficient. A spokesman for Schaffer said the nation needs to find more oil.

Democratic activists have branded Schaffer “Big Oil Bob” and they’ve set up a Web site depicting him riding an oil rig.

According to financial disclosure statements filed with the Senate Ethics Committee in May, Schaffer was paid nearly $400,000 by the energy company that employed him before he quit to campaign for office.

Records show that in addition to the $160,000 salary Schaffer was paid by Aspect Management Corp., Schaffer also received $227,000 in severance pay from the company.

“While Mark Udall is working to lower gas prices, Bob Schaffer was taking close to $400,000 a year from the oil and gas industry he worked for. Now we know why gas prices are so high,” said Udall’s campaign spokeswoman, Tara Trujillo.

According to financial disclosure records, Schaffer received $150,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry since 1996, when he was first elected to Congress. When he retired from Congress in 2002, he went to work for Aspect Energy, an exploration and investment company.

Schaffer’s campaign repeatedly refers to Udall as “Boulder Liberal Mark Udall” in hopes of portraying him as out of touch with Colorado’s mainstream.

Schaffer’s spokesman, Dick Wadhams, said Udall and his environmental supporters are driving up the price of gas by opposing oil exploration that could increase supplies and lower the cost of gas.

Wadhams said Schaffer received the severance pay because he worked for the energy company for five years after leaving office. The company, based in Denver, is heavily involved in international exploration and acquisition.

Wadhams said the energy industry employs hundreds of thousands of people in Colorado and Schaffer is proud of his work.

“Why do they want to take away jobs from hundreds of thousands of Coloradans?” Wadhams asked.

The financial disclosure forms show Udall earned thousands of dollars from the sale of stocks and mutual funds last year. Trujillo said he sold the stocks to pay for college tuition for his children.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions, Udall raised $5.1 million during the 2008 election cycle and Schaffer raised $3.2 million. The biggest contributors to Udall were lawyers and law firms that donated $412,000 and political action committees were among the top contributors for Schaffer, with the oil and gas industry in the top five.