Not content to let Democrats have all the fun, the National Republican Congressional Committee is hitting back on ethics, accusing both vulnerable and top-name Democratic House candidates of being in the hip pocket of special interests.
Similar to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee effort unveiled last week, the NRCC on Monday launched a concerted campaign that attempts to tie Democrats to unethical behavior as they line their campaign coffers with special-interest cash.
“It’s an ongoing effort and something we will continue to do any time [Democratic] Members give us the opportunity,” said NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti.
The NRCC ethics campaign is being geared specifically toward local press based in the targeted Democrats’ districts, with no plans to release the information to national reporters.
As such, Forti said, this does not qualify as a nationalizing of the 2006 elections on the part of Republicans, something the NRCC has vowed not to do.
Firing back, the DCCC said Republicans have been on the take from oil and gas companies for years, and in the process legislated financial giveaways in return for the campaign contributions they’ve received.
“I think this is an effort to change the subject and divert attention away from some very serious problems that House Republicans have,” said DCCC spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg. “They have a serious credibility problem with the American people.”
In a series of similarly worded news releases targeting five Democratic incumbents and three well-regarded challengers seeking election next year, Republicans attempt to make the case that Democrats are knee-deep in a swamp of unethical behavior.
“From the $20,000 in Federal Election Committee fines issued against House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for breaking campaign laws, to the recent conviction of former Democratic Congressman Frank Ballance, the Democrats have had more than their share of corruption lately,” the Republican news release begins.
It continues: “While national Democrats say anything to accommodate their ethical lapses, [targeted candidate’s name] is leading the way, tainting the legislative process by lining up shoulder-to-shoulder with special interests.”
The Democratic effort is focused on attacking strong Republican challengers while simultaneously bolstering vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
The Republican campaign, while doing the same via its targeting of Members like freshman Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), also goes after top-name Democrats running in previously safe seats, such as DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Rep. John Spratt (S.C.), who is No. 5 in the House Democratic leadership. While Emanuel remains safe, Spratt is facing his toughest challenge in more than a decade from state Rep. Ralph Norman (R).
The NRCC raps Emanuel for not directing the DCCC to return $30,000 in contributions from Ballance, as well as listing a litany of so-called personal ethics lapses.
The other targeted Democrats are criticized for various actions, with all eight of them hammered for accepting money from trial lawyers while voting against legal “reform” and other bills deemed offensive by the trial lawyer lobby.
Although the news releases are worded similarly, they are tailored to fit each targeted Member.
The one focused on Bean concludes: “It’s a political game of monkey see, monkey do, where the monkeys are freshman Democrats taking cues from their corrupt colleagues and special interest cronies.”