Several Democrats who have received campaign contributions from former Congressman Anthony Weiner have refused to return the donations despite increased pressure in light of the New York Democrat’s resignation on Thursday.
According to a Republican operative, the Democratic representatives who have kept money from Weiner are numerous, and include New York’s Tim Bishop ($10,000), Bill Owens ($4,000), Carolyn McCarthy ($1,000) and Brian Higgins ($4,000), Virginia’s Gerry Connolly ($1,000), Colorado’s Ed Perlmutter ($1,000), Pennsylvania’s Tim Holden ($2,000) and Mark Critz ($1,000), Georgia’s John Barrow ($6,000), Michigan’s Gary Peters ($1,000), New Jersey’s Rush Holt ($1,000), Missouri’s Russ Carnahan ($1,000) and Oregon’s ($1,000) Kurt Schrader.
As early as mid-Weinergate, the National Republican Congressional Committee launched a campaign against Democrats who had accepted funding from the disgraced representative, urging them to donate the money to charity or find a way to return it.
As part of the campaign, the NRCC sent press releases to the districts of each congressman who had received money from Weiner urging constituents to support the rejection of the funds.
In a release sent to Barrow’s district, NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay stated that “Congressman Weiner’s behavior is so unbecoming for a Member of Congress that it should have been a very easy decision for John Barrow to return or donate the money he has received from his disgraced colleague.”
“Instead, Barrow continues to pocket his embattled ally’s cash and essentially pretend that Weiner’s behavior is not a problem,” the statement said. (OUT: Rep. Weiner resigns from Congress)
While the pressure has reached some of the recipients of Weiner’s funds — Democratic congressmen who have returned the money include Connecticut’s Joey Courtney and Jim Himes, Minnesota’s Tim Walz, Ohio’s Betty Sutton, Iowa’s Dave Loebsack, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Illinois’ Bill Foster — the majority of recipients have refused to dispose of the now-tainted contributions.
Bishop, for example, Weiner’s fellow New York Democrat, received an impressive $10,000 donation from the scandal-embroiled former congressman. Despite calls for Bishop to return the money, however, his press secretary Oliver Longwell said in an email to TheDC that Bishop is unlikely to do so unless the House Ethics Committee were to declare the funds ill-gotten or obtained through impropriety.
“Bishop returned donations from a colleague in the past when the Ethics Committee determined that there were improprieties in that Member’s fundraising,” Longwell added. “Should that be found to be the case with Mr. Weiner, Bishop will return the funds.”
Spokespeople for other representatives did not respond to The DC’s requests for comment.