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Is Obama's Latest Romney Slam Misleading?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- At first you might think Barack Obama's team is slamming all oil billionaires as secretive and bankrolling Mitt Romney's campaign.

"Secretive oil billionaires are making good on their promise to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Governor Romney's behalf attempting to defeat the president," Ben LaBolt, Obama's press secretary, said Thursday in a statement.

But a deeper look at the statement reveals that Obama's camp is really slamming Charles and David Koch and their ties to the conservative group Americans for Prosperity's attacks against the president.

The Koch brothers, who run the private conglomerate Koch Industries, reportedly launched a $3.6 million ad campaign against Obama about gas prices as the two hope to funnel more than $200 million to conservatives for the 2012 election cycle.

"These ads are a down payment on their effort to defeat President Obama, and the reason why they want to defeat President Obama is because a big part of his clean energy and investment agenda is to get us off of oil and using alternatives to oil that are both cleaner and domestic -- and the Koch brothers are oil guys," says Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow at Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The president has ramped up criticism of Big Oil in recent weeks as he attempts to rescind billions of dollars in tax breaks from the biggest five oil companies for the past two years.

The press statement's headline "Secretive Oil Billionaires ... Bankroll Mitt Romney" is technically correct -- there are two Koch brothers, both of whom are billionaires (tied for No. 4 as the richest people in America), and the pair don't publicly disclose their contributions to Americans for Prosperity.

But searches through opensecrets.org's database of federal contributions show that the Koch Brothers have not directly donated to Romney's campaign, nor has Americans for Prosperity made any contributions thus far to federal candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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