SIOUX FALLS | South Dakota Democratic U.S. House candidate Matt Varilek once owned shares of stock in an energy company he has cited in criticisms of "big oil" campaign donations to his opponent, incumbent Republican Rep. Kristi Noem.

The Daily Republic reports (http://bit.ly/OD5ej2 ) Varilek bought 20 shares of Valero Energy stock in June 2008 for $1,045, and sold them about a year later. Varilek says it was a minor purchase and had no influence on his political views, while the company is sending large amounts of money to Noem's campaign.

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Varilek campaign manager David Benson says there's no hypocrisy on the part of Varilek. He says Varilek has never taken campaign money from big energy companies.

Noem says she is a longtime supporter of ethanol and is not influenced by big oil companies.

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