In a New York Post column, Dick Morris alleged that Democratic supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election campaign had contributed money to GOP candidate K.T. McFarland to "handicap" her Republican primary opponent, John Spencer. However, at the time McFarland accepted the contributions, she was running for a seat in the House of Representatives -- not competing directly with Clinton.
In his June 13 New York Post column, Dick Morris accused Democratic supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) re-election campaign of contributing thousands of dollars to GOP candidate K.T. McFarland to "keep her in the race." Morris wrote that there "may be a concerted campaign to encourage Hillary donors" to give to McFarland in order to "handicap" her primary opponent, Republican candidate John Spencer. However, at the time McFarland accepted the contributions from Clinton supporters, McFarland was not competing directly with Clinton, but rather was running for a seat in the House of Representatives. Only months later did McFarland drop out of that race and launch her Senate campaign.
The New York Daily News' Ben Smith reported the same charge days earlier but retracted it upon learning the dates of the contributions. On June 7, Smith penned an entry on the New York Daily News' political weblog titled "Clintonites for KT." He identified six Democratic donors who had contributed to McFarland and quoted Spencer's campaign manager, who alleged a "concerted effort by Sen. Clinton's supporters to fund Ms. McFarland's primary challenge." Less than an hour later, however, Smith retracted the charge in a post titled "So Much for That Conspiracy":
A reader more alert than I am notes that the conspiracy floated in the last post -- involving Clinton supporters also giving money to McFarland -- has to be a bit more complicated than I'd realized: The Democrats all gave to McFarland when she was still running for Congress.
Indeed, the six donors in question all contributed to McFarland between December 2005 and January, during her campaign for New York's 14th Congressional District. McFarland did not abandon her House bid and launch her Senate campaign until early March. The following is a list of donors who contributed to both McFarland and Clinton and the dates they gave to McFarland:
- 12/2/05: Charlotte Ford donated $500 to McFarland for House
- 12/6/05: Dane Neller donated $500 to McFarland for House
- 12/12/05: Lionel Pincus donated $4,200 to McFarland for House
- 12/16/05: Constance Spahn donated $500 to McFarland for House
- 12/20/05: Ann Chamberlain Knight donated $2,100 to McFarland for House
- 1/23/06: James S. Gold donated $500 to McFarland for House
A Media Matters for America search of the Center for Responsive Politics' online campaign finance database found no contributions from any of these donors after McFarland's entry into the Senate race.
Despite Smith's retraction, the Spencer campaign highlighted the purported "Clinton-McFarland Connection" in a June 12 press release. Apparently following the Spencer campaign's lead, Morris reprinted the charges in his June 13 column. He wrote that "Democrats and Hillary backers are flocking to McFarland to support her candidacy and keep her in the race" and asserted that "[t]his pattern is no coincidence." At no point in the column did Morris disclose the dates of the contributions in question.