The National Republican Senatorial Committee gave $43,100 to Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch’s campaign, despite recent pleas from Tea Party activists that the organization wait until a Republican nominee is selected before supporting a candidate.
New filings show that the NRSC also contributed the same amount to Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, who is also facing a GOP primary challenge. That candidate, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, also enjoys the support of Tea Party activists.
A spokesman for the NRSC said its standard practice for the organization to give money to incumbent senators.
“The NRSC would not exist were it not for the support and fundraising efforts of all of our Republican Senators, and we assist every incumbent who is facing a competitive or potentially competitive race,” said spokesman Brian Walsh.
He also pointed out that Hatch, who was the NRSC’s vice chairman last cycle, raised more than $2 million last cycle — money that was ultimately spent to help Tea Party-backed candidates Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey win in the general election.
No GOP challenger has stepped up against Hatch yet, though it’s likely Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz or another Republican may do so. (FreedomWorks makes Orrin Hatch first 2012 target)
In June, more than 50 Tea Partiers, many from Utah and organized by the Washington-based group FreedomWorks, stormed the offices of the NRSC to protest the organization’s support of Hatch. The protestors said the organization shouldn’t openly support a candidate until the general election.
The Daily Caller was the first to report that FreedomWorks was launching a “Retire Hatch” campaign, claiming he’s too moderate and out of sync with a conservative movement stressing fiscal conservatism.
Conservatives have not unified against Hatch. Some have already endorsed him, including radio show host Mark Levin.
The NRSC also confirmed donations to Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe.