Facing unusually stiff competition at the ballot box, at least two Democratic congressmen are cutting corners on the ethics pledges they made regarding whom they’ll accept money from, disclosure records show.
Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, has accepted nearly $50,000 from individuals employed by companies that received government bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Frank has pledged he will not accept funds from companies that received TARP money, but the donations appear to skirt the pledge.
In a separate race, Ohio Democrat Rep. Zack Space recently accepted a $1,000 donation from the wife of a D.C.-based lobbyist, violating the spirit of his pledge not to accept money from lobbyists, watchdog groups say.
Space, who represents the district formerly held by Republican Rep. Bob Ney, who went to jail for corruption related to GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pledged he would not accept lobbyists’ dollars when he first ran for the seat.
Space has been criticized, though, both for accepting over $1 million from corporate political action committees and the immediate family members of lobbyists.
Now in the heat of a campaign in which a Republican wave has put as many as 100 Democrats at risk of losing their congressional seats, Space is again accepting money from the spouse of a lobbyist.
Space accepted $1,000 from Laura Fallin Redding, married to lobbyist Robert L. Redding, records show.
With so many Democrats in danger, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said members are ditching their pledges because they desperately need the money.
“Democrats have hit the panic button, and that’s why Speaker Pelosi’s allies, like Barney Frank and Zack Space, are abandoning the pledges they made. They need all the help they can get to fend off tough challenges this fall. It’s obviously more important to Barney Frank and Zack Space to save their political careers than it is to keep their word with voters,” said NRCC spokesman Tory Mazzola.
Neither Frank nor Space returned requests for comment.