Freddoso baselessly suggests Ellsworth sold health care vote for campaign money

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

In a Washington Examiner blog post, David Freddoso baselessly suggested that Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) -- who is seeking the nomination to run for retiring Sen. Evan Bayh's seat -- "s[old] his 'yes' vote on ObamaCare for $1 million in campaign money." However, the campaign money that Bayh is reported to be contributing is for the Indiana Democratic Party, not simply for Ellsworth; moreover, in announcing his retirement in February, Bayh made clear that he would use his remaining campaign money "to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana." Ellsworth has been widely reported to be the "frontrunner" for the nomination since Bayh's announcement.

Freddoso: Did Ellsworth "sell his 'yes' vote" on health care reform "for $1 million in campaign money?"

In a March 23 post on The Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog, David Freddoso asked, "Did Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., sell his 'yes' vote on ObamaCare for $1 million in campaign money?" Freddoso further wrote:

From National Journal:

Sen. Evan Bayh (D) announced today that he has contributed $1M of his campaign cash to help Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) succeed him in the Senate.

The reward comes just a couple of days after Ellsworth suddenly and unexpectedly announced that he was voting "yes" on the Senate bill. Is this how they talked him into it?

National Journal article Freddoso linked to notes Bayh's contribution goes to Indiana Democrats -- not just Ellsworth. While Freddoso suggested that Bayh's contribution benefits only Ellsworth, the March 23 National Journal article to which Freddoso linked -- headlined, "Bayh gives $1M to IN Dems" -- quotes Bayh as saying, "I am determined to help Brad Ellsworth and the 2010 Democratic ticket with the financial resources they need to run a successful campaign." The article further quoted Indiana Democratic Party chair Dan Parker as saying that the money would be used to help "Democrats from the top of the ticket on down."

Bayh has previously said he would use campaign money "to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana" to succeed him

Bayh: "I'm going to take some of [the campaign money] to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana." On the February 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked Bayh -- who announced on February 15 that he would retire from the Senate -- "You have $13 million in campaign cash, what are you going to do with that money?" Bayh responded: "Well, I haven't decided yet. I'm going to take some of it to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana." Later, after Blitzer asked, "So basically what I hear you saying, the 13 million, a lot of it if not all of it, you want to give away to fellow Democrats so that they can get elected?" Bayh said, "Yes, that's one of the things I'd like to do." From the interview:

BLITZER: All right. Let's look ahead a little bit. You have $13 million in campaign cash, what are you going to do with that money?

BAYH: Well, I haven't decided yet. I'm going to take some of it to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana. I think we have got a good chance to win that election. And so I'd like to be very supportive financially. I'd also --

BLITZER: How much can you give that nominee legally?

BAYH: Well, I don't know. That's a job for the lawyers. And they haven't gotten back to me yet. As you can imagine, I've been kind of busy the last 48 hours. But I do want to help our nominee. That's number one.

Number two, I would like to help like-minded Democrats, you know, people who want to get things done, who are practical, who want to reach out and forge principled compromises with those on the other side of the aisle, Wolf. I'd like to use some of those resources to accomplish that as well.

BLITZER: So basically what I hear you saying, the 13 million, a lot of it if not all of it, you want to give away to fellow Democrats so that they can get elected?

BAYH: Yes, that's one of the things I'd like to do.

Indiana Democratic Party chair: Bayh "committed to help the candidate [to succeed him] financially." Politico reported in a February 15 article -- headlined, "Who gets Evan Bayh's money?" -- that "one likely recipient of some of his funds is whoever becomes his party's candidate to succeed him. Dan Parker, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party and a Bayh confidante, said Monday that Bayh 'committed to help the candidate financially,' but offered no other details."

Bayh spokesman: "[Y]ou can expect him to be helpful to the nominee." In a February 16 post on his blog, The Plum Line, Greg Sargent reported: "Bayh spokesman Brian Weiss tells me Bayh has 'made no decisions' on what to do with the money. 'But you can expect him to be helpful to the nominee,' Weiss says."

Ellsworth widely considered "the frontrunner" for Democratic nomination to run for Bayh's seat

Ellsworth "entered the Democratic Senate race as the front-runner." The Indianapolis Star reported on February 20 that "Ellsworth entered the Democratic Senate race as the front-runner Friday, but he still faces competition for the job Sen. Evan Bayh no longer wants."

Indiana Democratic official: Ellsworth "is the frontrunner at this point." After Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN) announced he would not run for the Senate seat being vacated by Bayh and endorsed Ellsworth for the nomination, on February 27, the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal quoted Dean Boerste, a member of the Indiana Democratic Party's central committee -- which decides the nominee -- as saying, "It looks like Brad is the frontrunner at this point. ... There are a couple other names out there, but I don't look for them to stay active in this for very long."

Roll Call: Ellsworth "the overwhelming Democratic frontrunner." Roll Call reported on February 23 (accessed via Nexis) that Ellsworth "became the overwhelming Democratic frontrunner when he confirmed on Friday that he is entering the Senate race."

Politico: Ellsworth is "by many accounts the party's preferred candidate to succeed Bayh." Politico reported on February 17 that Ellsworth is "by many accounts the party's preferred candidate to succeed Bayh."

Ellsworth spokesman reportedly said decision to support bill "based solely on its merits"

Ellsworth's spokesman reportedly said decision to support health care bill "based solely on its merits." In a March 20 article on Ellsworth's decision to support the health care reform bill passed by the House on March 21, The Indianapolis Star reported that "Ellsworth was personally lobbied by President Barack Obama this week" but that "Ellsworth spokesman Jon Kott said the president did not offer the congressman anything in exchange for his support and said Ellsworth's decision on the bill was based solely on its merits."

Ellsworth: "I am confident supporting health-care reform is the right decision for Hoosiers." As reported by The Indianapolis Star on March 20, in a statement announcing his decision, Ellsworth said, "After months of meetings and conversations with thousands of Hoosiers, health care experts and pro-life advocates, I am confident supporting health-care reform is the right decision for Hoosiers." Ellsworth further stated: "In addition to meeting my pro-life principles, the plan reduces costs, improves access to affordable insurance options, covers pre-existing conditions, and does not add one penny to the deficit: my five principles for health-care reform."

Ellsworth previously voted in favor of the House's health care reform bill. On November 7, 2009, Ellsworth voted in support of the House of Representatives' health care reform legislation, titled, "Affordable Health Care for America Act."

Retiring lawmakers have regularly given unused campaign money to candidates, campaign committees

Politico: Lott contributed unused campaign funds to NRSC amid retirement. Politico reported on February 15 that "as he was leaving office in late 2007, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had $1.24 million in cash in the bank. He gave $100,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee just before exiting the Senate." The Politico article noted that Lott "used the rest of his money to create the New Republican Majority Fund, a leadership PAC, in early '08," which "has since dished out tens of thousands of dollars to GOP candidate, including $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and another $15,000 to the NRSC." The Politico further reported that "former Rep. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.) and Jim McCrery (R-La.) have ... dish[ed] out more than $160,000 to the ex-colleagues."

Roll Call: "House Committees Covet Retirees' Cash." In a July 23, 2008, article (accessed via Nexis) Roll Call reported that "[r]etiring House Members -- all but three of them Republicans -- were sitting on a collective $8.9 million in available campaign funds at the end of June" and that "[p]arty committees covet the cash already collected by Members, who can transfer unlimited amounts from their campaign accounts to the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee." The article reported that retiring Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) made "at least $11,000 in direct contributions to GOP Members and candidates" and that "Saxton transferred at least $250,000 to the NRCC" in 2007. The article further reported:

Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.), who had $606,000 in the bank at the end of last month, also showed no transfers to the NRCC but gave $7,000 directly to federal candidates from his campaign account.

Pickering sent $500 each to former Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.), who is running to reclaim her old seat, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.). He also gave $2,000 to the campaign of Greg Davis, the GOP nominee who was defeated in the special election to fill now-Sen. Roger Wicker's (R-Miss.) House seat -- and who is on the ballot again in November.

[...]

Retiring Democrats, meanwhile, have a much smaller pool of leftover money because there are only three who have announced they are not seeking re-election in November.

[...]

Retiring Rep. Darlene Hooley transferred $100,000 to the DCCC in late May and has also used her leftover funds to directly contribute to candidates. She sent $4,000 to now-Rep. Travis Childers (R-Miss.) just before the special runoff he won in early May.

She also contributed to Democratic candidates in Nevada, Maryland, Florida and Missouri as well as to state Sen. Kurt Schrader, the Democratic nominee in the race to succeed her. She showed $187,000 in the bank at the end of last month.

Bayh's PAC has previously contributed to Ellsworth, other IN Dem candidates

Bayh's PAC has previously contributed to Ellsworth, other Indiana Democratic congressional candidates. Bayh's political action committee has previously donated to Ellsworth as well as other Indiana Democratic congressional candidates. In 2008, All America PAC contributed $5,000 each to Indiana congressional candidates Ellsworth, Rep. Baron Hill, and Rep. Joe Donnelly, as well as $9,998 to Rep. Andre Carson. In 2006, All America PAC contributed $10,000 to Ellsworth and Hill, $5,000 to Donnelly, and $2,500 to former Rep. Julia Carson. In 2004, Bayh's PAC gave $10,000 to Hill, and in 2002 contributed $5,000 to Hill, Julia Carson, and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson. In 2000, Bayh's PAC contributed $10,000 to former Rep. Tim Roemer, $9,848 to Hill, $5,000 to Julia Carson, and $1,022 to Democratic candidate Paul Perry.

Right-wing media have repeatedly smeared Dems with allegations of bribes or special deals in health care reform

Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked health care reform and smeared Democrats with baseless allegations that the Obama administration has attempted to buy votes or has cut "special deals" or "bribes" for health care reform. These smears have included the baseless allegations that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) traded his vote for airport funding in his district; that the administration "bribed" Democrats with water allocation in California; that Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) traded his health care vote for a NASA administrator job and that Tennessee received special funding for Medicaid treatments to bribe Gordon; that Obama bribed Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) by appointing his brother to a federal appeals court; and that the Bank of North Dakota was given a special exemption to ensure the passage of health care reform.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Washington Examiner
Person
David Freddoso
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