Richard Painter Desperately Trying To Distance Himself From Bush, GOP

David J. Phillip/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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A longtime lawyer for former President George W. Bush who is running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota as a Democrat is really trying to distance himself from the Republican party.

Richard Painter, 56, is listed a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the state of Minnesota on the FEC website and has raised nearly $15,000 as of March 31. (RELATED: Richard Painter Won’t Back The Eight Women Accusing Franken Of Sexual Assault)

Painter plays out his journey to the Senate race on his campaign website, a journey he wants voters to see as characterized by ethical behavior, fighting the Republican establishment (dating back to former President Ronald Reagan) and a commitment to public service. (RELATED: Former W. Bush Ethics Lawyer Running For Senate In Minnesota)

The timeline dates back to 1980 while Painter was at Harvard. In 1981, Painter says he “spoke out against President Reagan’s aid to the oppressive right-wing government in El Salvador.” The following year he called out “Reagan’s reckless deficit spending and cuts to social programs.”

Painter goes on to say how, during his time in Illinois, he spoke out against corruption in both political parties, mentioning two Republican examples and one Democratic instance.

He labels his time serving in the Bush administration as one of public service but without a political agenda.

“Took a leave of absence from teaching at the University of Illinois College of Law to serve as Associate Counsel to the President and chief White House ethics lawyer. The White House ethics lawyer’s job is not a policy or political job. The fact that Mr. Painter often disagreed with the policy preferences of the contemporary Republican Party was irrelevant. His consistent theme for decades has been that ethics is not political,” Painter’s website states.

Painter lists a number of accomplishments since leaving the Bush administration, like pushing for same-sex marriage in Minnesota, fighting the NRA in a New York Times op-ed after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary and writing another op-ed pushing for the immediate Senate confirmation of former President Barack Obama’s failed nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court.

Painter notes that he went on to become the vice chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Painter is on a leave of absence from CREW, which he announced in early March, coinciding with the launching of his exploratory committee for a potential Senate bid.

CREW was the group behind the lawsuit against Trump in which lawyers argued that the president violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause when he did not sell or put his assets behind a blind trust. The case was dismissed in December, but the group notified the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in February of its plans to appeal.

When Painter notes his involvement with CREW, he refers to the president as “Donald Drumpf,” a reference to a bit on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” in which host John Oliver started a campaign to call Trump by his reported original family name.

In 2016, Painter “became Vice Chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a bipartisan government ethics watchdog group that later filed a lawsuit against President Donald Drumpf for his receipt of profits and benefits from foreign governments in violation of the constitution,” his website states.

Painter also wants voters to know that he selflessly contributes to major news networks, offering his best legal takes on the current affairs of the Trump administration.

“Without compensation, appears as an expert on hundreds of news shows for CNN, MSNBC, BBC, PBS, NPR, I-24, WCCO and many other television and radio outlets to condemn ethics violations, obstruction of justice and constitutional violations by President Trump and his administration,” his website states.

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