WASHINGTON -- Republicans are raising the pressure on Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner Tuesday, targeting Democrats around the country who have accepted campaign contributions from the over-exposed New Yorker.
Both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee blasted out press releases calling for Democrats to return Weiner's "tainted" money.
"Tim Walz now faces a choice between returning the scandal-tainted donations he has received from Congressman Weiner or silently condoning his colleague's lewd and bizarre behavior that could lead to a potential ethics violation," said NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay in a representative release aimed at a Minnesota Democrat. "It comes down to whether Walz is willing to put the needs of his Minnesota constituents ahead of his Washington Democrat allies and his own political coffers."
The shot was also aimed at 16 other Democrats. And three in New York -- Reps. Bill Owens, Brian Higgins and Tim Bishop -- got a special follow-up.
“Anthony Weiner’s New York colleagues find themselves between a rock and a hard place," said the NRCC's Tory Mazzola. "Owens, Higgins and Bishop should return this tainted cash and stop supporting the Democrats’ bulging spending habits.”
Weiner doled out at least $75,000 to fellow Democrats in the last election, according to federal election data. The NRCC pointed to $10,000 Bishop has gotten, including $6,000 last year. Higgins and Owens each have gotten $4,000 from Weiner in the past.
The NRSC, meanwhile, dinged Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who got $1,000 from Weiner, and Indiana Senate candidate, Rep. Joe Donnelly.
“We now know that Joe Donnelly’s friend Anthony Weiner was lying, and did in fact engage in this lewd online behavior," said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. "So as Donnelly’s boss Nancy Pelosi calls for an ethics investigation, will Donnelly tell Hoosiers whether he plans to hold on to the $5,000 in campaign cash he took from Weiner?”
At least one Democrat was quick to give Weiner cash to charity. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) unloaded $2,000, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Various candidates did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a Democratic campaign operative suggested that Republicans were being hypocritical, pointing to two contests in Florida.
In one, GOP Rep. David Rivera was recently accused of failing to disclose $137,000 in loans. "Pete Sessions threw his arm arond the guy," griped the operative, noting that the NRCC chairman was not distancing himself from his own scandal-tarred ally.
The other case involves Rep. Vern Buchanan, an NRCC official, who was accused by the FEC of benefitting from a $70,000 campaign contribution scam.
Furthermore, about 14 Republicans never returned contributions from the GOP's own shirtless cyber hound, former New York Rep. Chris Lee, who quit after his lewd flirtations on Cragslist came to light. Among recipients of his cash were fellow New York GOP Reps. Nan Hayworth, Ann Marie Buerkle, Tom Reed and Chris Gibson.
Still, the give-back-the-tainted-money stratagem has been used to great effect in numerous campaigns, and it is only one of the pressure points that will come to bear on Weiner, who declared Monday that he will not resign.
Other pressure will come from each new revelation that surfaces about his lurid electronic chats and behavior. And as new details emerge, there will be more and more information for an ethics investigationto weigh, which itself is likely to hang over Weiner's head until next year, when campaign season begins.
Insiders told The Huffington Post Monday it will be tough for Weiner to survive. Another conceded Tuesday that at best Weiner faces a long, hard year under intense pressure.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made her formal request for the ethics investigation Tuesday afternoon:
The Honorable Jo Bonner, Chairman
The Honorable Linda T. Sanchez, Ranking Member
1015 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Bonner and Ranking Member Sanchez:
On June 6, 2011, Representative Anthony Weiner disclosed conduct which he described as inappropriate.
An investigation by the Ethics Committee to determine whether the Rules of the House of Representatives have been violated is warranted.
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