SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As the fallout continues from the indictment of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Democrats nationally have begun calling on Republicans up for reelection next year with ties to him to distance themselves in a way that might sting: returning campaign money.
On Thursday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called on three Republican U.S. Senators up for reelection next year to rid themselves of contributions they received from Hastert’s active campaign committee, Keep Our Mission PAC.
Among them? Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, Arkansas Sen. John Boozman and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt.
In 2010, Blunt’s campaign received $10,000 from Hastert’s PAC. Four years later, it received another $1,000. Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement Thursday that by keeping the “scandalized” money in his campaign account amounts to him giving “tacit approval to these bad actions.”
“Roy Blunt should return or donate Denny Hastert’s money immediately,” said Weiner, whose committee is supporting Blunt’s Democratic opponent, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.
Blunt, during an interview in Southwest Missouri between events, said he currently does not have plans to part ways with the $11,000 he received from Hastert’s PAC.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” he said.
Blunt, who was elected to Congress in 1996, served under Hastert for much of his time in Congress. Blunt took over as House Republican chief deputy whip when Hastert was promoted to Speaker of the House. Blunt rose in the ranks under him – going from majority whip to majority leader until Republicans lost control of the House in the 2006 election.
While Blunt said he is not returning his contributions from Hastert, Kirk in Illinois already has. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that Kirk, one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection next year, donated the $10,000 he received from Hastert to a charity in his state.
Hastert was indicted last week over allegations of breaking banking rules in an attempt to cover up sexual misconduct with a student during his days as a high school wrestling coach.