Montana C-store Association Puts Tester to the Test

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Montana C-store Association Puts Tester to the Test


HELENA, Mont. -- Convenience store owners in Montana have a bone to pick with U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D.-Mont.).

According to the Billings Gazette, the Montana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association purchased several newspaper and television ads criticizing the senator for his 2011 effort to delay new limits on debit-card swipe fees charged by banks.

The TV ads, which began running on stations throughout Montana on Sunday, say Tester "led the charge for big Wall Street banks" to undo the reforms and allow them to increase fees, reported the news outlet.

The Tester campaign estimated the c-store group spent $232,000 on the ads.

The television ads feature a woman filling up her gas tank at a c-store and notes that "Democrats and Republicans in Congress worked together to cut swipe fees," but Tester spearheaded an effort to undo that work.

"Senator Tester, we're disappointed in you," the woman says at the conclusion at the ad.

However, Tester has continued to say that the swipe-fee limit would unfairly cut a key revenue stream for small-town banks in Montana.

"This was another issue where Jon Tester worked across party lines to protect small businesses and consumers in rural Montana," campaign spokesman Aaron Murphy told the newspaper.

Tester is in the midst of a re-election campaign against U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). However, Ronna Alexander, a spokesperson for the c-store association, said the ads simply raise an issue and the group takes no stance on the race for senator.

"This is about our disappointment in [Tester's] support of big bank and credit card companies," she told the news outlet. "We don't consider this is as getting involved in the race, but raising an issue."

The television ad can be viewed here.