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DCCC Robocalls Target Six Republicans on Ethics

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today will start dialing voters in the districts of six House Republicans who Democrats claim have had “ethical failures.”

The modest campaign will target GOP Reps. Charles Bass (N.H.), Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), David Rivera (Fla.) and Scott Tipton (Colo.). Each robocall is tailored to an ethical dust-up reported in the media, and the Members have all denied wrongdoing. The DCCC, trying to win back the House, presents only its version of the facts in the calls.

Residents of Tipton’s district will be told about a Denver Post report suggesting the Republican spent “thousands of taxpayer dollars on vendors working with a company that employs Tipton’s daughter and is owned by his nephew,” according to a script obtained by Roll Call.

The calls in Rivera’s district say he is under investigation by two Florida authorities for payments he received from his mother’s company.

The Bass calls highlight his close ties to and investments in the biomass industry.

Voters in Fincher’s district are told about newspaper reports that he “admits” he did not disclose more than $1.5 million in debts and more than $500,000 in assets. The call also charges that federal officials have been “looking into Fincher’s failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans” from a bank where his father serves on the board.

Voters in Guinta’s district are asked whether they are aware of “troubling new questions” about his campaign’s finances.

The Buchanan call focuses on an investigation into campaign contributions from employees at a car dealership the Republican once owned.

The calls each end with a request that voters call the Members’ district offices to complain. A DCCC spokesman declined to disclose the size of the buy but said the calls will go to households with Republicans, Democrats and nonaffiliated voters, with an emphasis on convincing independents.

A National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman dismissed the calls as an effort to “distract voters from the bad economy they are making worse.”

Ethics cuts both ways.

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) has acknowledged that Congressional ethics investigators had met with her staff, and last week a watchdog group released emails from her chief of staff telling other employees that they were required to attend a political event. Such an action might run afoul of Congressional ethics rules or federal laws.

On Friday, the House Ethics Committee confirmed it is looking into possible ethics violations by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) related to an omission of spousal income on his financial disclosure forms. The committee also is probing the actions of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio).

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