In a statement released this evening, Obama's Florida Communications Director Mark Bubriski had this to say:
Once again, the oil companies and their friends are standing with Senator McCain, the candidate for president who is proposing to offer them a $4 billion tax cut. It looks like Gas Station TV doesn't want the American people to know about Senator Obama's plan to offer working families a $1,000 energy rebate that would be funded by a tax on oil company profits. The oil companies have taken sides in this race, and they are standing with John McCain, because they know he's been in Washington for 26 years and can be counted on to pursue for another four years of the Bush energy policy that's made them billions of dollars.The campaign also claims to have e-mails proving that GSTV initially signed off on the ad. According to an e-mail from a Dee Parker at ABC National Sales, "GSTV owners have signed off on this" and that it's "approved the spot." (Ms. Parker declined to comment, directing calls to the client and GSTV.)
UPDATE: According to GSTV, "The e-mail chain provided by the Obama campaign is 100% inaccurate. GSTV never viewed or approved the spot to air nor did GSTV receive an insertion order or payment for a media buy."
Indeed, in the one e-mail from GSTV provided by the Obama camp, someone identified as Jeff Hupp writes that he could have the ad turned around in an hour after receiving an insertion order, but that he'd yet to receive such an order. According to GSTV, Mr. Hupp is a VP-business operations. A spokeswoman for the company said it doesn't have a direct relationship with ABC National Sales, but does partner with ESPN for content.
In a lengthy formal statement, GSTV went on to say that "the campaigns that contacted Gas Station TV did not receive approval to move forward with a media buy on our network. Gas Station TV must approve any ads running on the network and no political ads were sent to Gas Station TV for review and approval. ... No invoices indicating approval from Gas Station TV to run a political ad were developed and at no time were related financial transactions completed with Gas Station TV and its partners."
The company also made it clear it wasn't taking McCain's side, saying it wouldn't take political ads "regardless of content or political party affiliation." It also said it was not approached by any of the oil companies regarding political ad content.