Politics

Steele to Dems on Chamber attacks: ‘Put up or shut up!’

Democrats need to produce evidence of their accusations that conservative groups are using foreign funds for election purposes or “shut up” about the issue, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said.

Steele and his counterpart Tim Kaine of the Democratic National Committee engaged in a war of words across TV channels Friday, with the DNC chairman saying on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that there is “quite a bit of evidence” for the charges. The fight over the accusations, which have not been substantiated, reached a new high after President Obama levied the charge at a campaign rally last week.

Steele, interviewed about the issue on Fox News, called the allegations “crazy.”

“I’m tired of Democrats making these accusations,” Steele said. “Put the proof on the table. You’re running your mouth, you’re talking trash. …Put up or shut up!”

Kaine argued that, since the Chamber of Commerce receives money from foreign corporations into its general account, it is plausible that the group uses that money for political purposes. The Chamber counters that it carefully vets donations to ensure they are compliant with campaign finance laws. Democrats want the Chamber to disclose the names of their donors to prove that they are not running afoul of federal guidelines, even though disclosure is not required by law.

When pressed by ABC host George Stephanopoulos on his claim of evidence, Kaine said the fact that the Chamber would not disclose is evidence enough to assume the group is not properly accounting for their foreign donations.

“You have no evidence that they don’t do that,” Stephanopoulos said.

“Well, disclose who the donors are,” Kaine replied. “The American public has a right to know who is funding these ads on television.”

On Thursday, Kaine compared the Chamber’s alleged misdeeds to the Watergate scandal, when President Richard Nixon authorized a secret break-in of Democratic Party headquarters in 1974. Stephanopoulos called it “a stretch.”

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