03/30/2011 06:48 pm ET Updated May 30, 2011

GOP Taps Once-Bankrupt Rick Crawford As Face of Fiscal Restraint

WASHINGTON -- Democrats pounced on the man Republicans chose today to be their spokesman for fiscal restraint: a freshman Arkansas congressman who once filed bankruptcy over unpaid credit card bills.

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) was the lead signer of a letter endorsed by a pack of GOP freshmen demanding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pass a budget-cutting spending measure to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year.

"Mr. Reid, your record on spending in the Senate is one of failure," wrote the 30 lawmakers, who also vowed to rally on the Capitol steps until the Senate passed a budget. "You have failed to pass a budget, failed to restrain spending, and failed to put our country on sound fiscal footing," they said.

But Crawford seemed an odd choice to expound on sound fiscal footing.

"Really?" said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson.

"Of all the people for House Republican freshmen to pick as their front man for a stunt about fiscal responsibility, they picked Representative Rick Crawford who couldn't even pay his own credit card bills and went bankrupt because of it," Ferguson said in a statement.

According to press accounts during Crawford's campaign, he declared bankruptcy in 1994 over $12,611.67 in debt - mostly for credit cards.

His spokeswoman did not immediately answer requests for comment, but Crawford's representatives at the time suggested he learned from his humbling experience, went on to be a successful businessman, and didn't want the country to suffer a similar fate.

Still, Democrats thought Crawford's past showed GOP hypocrisy.

"Tells you something about how serious House Republican freshmen are about fiscal responsibility," said Ferguson.