07/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Arlen Specter's Desperate Fundraising Tactics

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

Arlen Specter appears even more desperate as his fundraising pleas are getting ever more shameless. You of course recall about a month ago when it came out that the cancer awareness website that Specter supported was really a fundraising gimmick for Specter's re-election campaign. Now it's being reported that, when Specter attends conferences to speak on policy, completely unrelated to his campaign efforts, he's still making fundraising pleas to the unwitting attendees:

It's no secret that cash rules political campaigns and that candidates spend a lot of their time trying to pry checks out of voters, businesses and interest groups and just about whoever. It's usually done discreetly at fundraisers held in places like the back room of a restaurant or the home of a prominent supporter.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) isn't so shy, apparently.

In an unusual move, Specter pleaded with a roomful of conference attendees Wednesday: Please write me a check. Members of Congress give talks at industry meetings all the time but they rarely - if ever - straight up ask for dough in public, especially when reporters are lurking about.

Specter was finishing up brief speech about healthcare reform to an audience of medical equipment suppliers when he closed his remarks with a fundraising pitch.

"My last [campaign] cost $23 mil. So I'd like you to consider giving me a hand with it. Campaign contributions are limited in the federal system so I have to get 50,000 contributors and the people in your industry have a reason to know my work and analysis of the situation. If you can see your way to help out, I'd be very much appreciative," Specter said.

Again, that pitch wasn't at a campaign fundraiser among supporters. It was at health care policy conference in a roomful of medical equipment suppliers who came to hear a legislator speak on policy, not a candidate pitch his re-election campaign. Pretty shameless, and it reeks of desperation.

Sure, Specter enjoys a large fundraising edge over Congressman Joe Sestak. As of the end of March, Specter had a 2-to-1 edge over Sestak in campaign bankroll, $6.7 million to $3.3 million. But a 2-to-1 fundraising edge - even with Ed Rendell, the DNC, and others working for him - might not be enough for Specter to maintain the edge on Sestak.

Nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania Democrats want Specter to receive a primary challenge. Specters knows this - and that may be why he's desperately pleading with policy conference attendees to cut checks for him in a most unseemly fashion.