HannityPAC: The GOP's man inside Fox

In the past few months, Sean Hannity has cheered, defended, and hosted numerous Republican candidates on his Fox News show, effectively turning the nightly hour-long program into a GOP fundraising venue. It's no surprise that Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell said she has Hannity “in my back pocket” or that Republicans reportedly go on his show to get a “certain kind of treatment.”

Republicans know they've “got Sean Hannity in my back pocket”

Fox News source: O'Donnell chose Hannity to get “certain kind of treatment.” After cancelling appearances on Fox News Sunday and CBS' Face the Nation, O'Donnell made the decision to appear on Hannity's Fox News show because “she felt she would get a certain kind of treatment,” according to a Fox News source. During the ensuing interview, Hannity asked her softball questions that did not deal with any of the serious allegations made against her.

O'Donnell: “I've got Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money.” In an October 14 Huffington Post article, Howard Fineman reported that according to two top GOP insiders, O'Donnell told DC Republican strategists, “I've got Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys.” Fineman noted that O'Donnell had appeared on Hannity's radio show that day to criticize the National Republican Senatorial Committee. According to Fineman, Hannity “expressed sympathy with O'Donnell's fiscal plight and gave a glowing review of her performance in last night's televised debate with [opponent Chris] Coons. Hannity criticized party insiders for not backing her with cash or endorsements.”

Sharron Angle bragged about raising money on Hannity's show. As journalist Jon Ralston noted, Nevada Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle bragged to supporters that her appearances on a “friendly press outlet” like Fox News are profitable. As an example, Angle said that when she made an appeal on “Sean Hannity's television show, we made $40,000 before we even got out of the studio in New York.”

Nicolle Wallace credited Hannity and Limbaugh with shaping GOP strategy. On the October 27 edition of Hannity, former Bush White House communications director Nicole Wallace credited Hannity and Rush Limbaugh with shaping the Republican strategy. Wallace said: “Both of you also made the point that Republicans will be best served by making this a philosophical and ideological discussion about the role the federal government in American life. We have done just that.” Hannity replied: “You're making the right point. That is what the narrative has become.”

Hannity's “fair and balanced” treatment of GOP candidates

Hannity: “Democrats fear that [Rubio] could be president one day, or a strong presidential contender.” On his October 29 show, Hannity discussed the news that “Bill Clinton tried to work behind the scenes to get the African-American Senate candidate [Kendrick Meek] from Florida to get out of the race and support the former Republican, now an Independent, Charlie Crist,” and seized the opportunity to stump for Marco Rubio. Hannity claimed that Rubio “is running away with” the race, adding, “I think Democrats fear that he could be president one day or a strong presidential contender.”

Hannity thought Angle's misleading campaign ad was fair. On October 8, Hannity aired a misleading ad from the Angle campaign that he said “is probably the template that I think every candidate could use against Democrats.” Among other things, the ad accused Sen. Harry Reid of “vot[ing] to use taxpayer dollars to pay for Viagra for convicted child molesters and sex offenders.” Hannity defended the ad from a skeptical Mike Huckabee by saying that the provision “was in the bill” and that it's “fair game” even if Reid didn't “read the bill.” But there was no provision in the health care bill that provided funding for Viagra for sexual predators.

Hannity on Paladino: “I love his confrontational style. He's refreshingly honest.” On his September 30 show, Hannity discussed a confrontation between New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and New York Post state editor Frederic Dicker. Hannity said that Dicker's original question to Paladino was “legitimate,” but nonetheless praised Paladino's reaction, saying, “I'm kind of enjoying that he's got the establishment off-balance, and they don't know how to deal with this guy 'cause he's so outspoken.” On the October 1 edition of his Fox show, he said of Paladino: “I love his confrontational style. He's refreshingly honest” (accessed from Nexis).

Hannity praised Whitman for doing “complete and due diligence.” On October 1, Hannity hosted California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman for a softball interview about allegations that she knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant. Hannity praised Whitman's conduct with regard to the hiring of the housekeeper, saying, “It seems to me you did complete and due diligence.” A few days later on his radio show, Hannity told Whitman he hopes she wins, to which Whitman replied: “We're going to deliver for you.”

Hannity's witchcraft vs. “bearded Marxist” double standard. On September 20, Hannity attacked the media for reporting on O'Donnell's 1999 admission that she had "dabbled in witchcraft" since it was something that occurred in the past, when she was “in high school.” Less than a minute after making this defense of O'Donnell, Hannity referred to her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, as “the bearded Marxist," which is a reference to an opinion piece Coons wrote 20 years ago in his college newspaper. Hannity has long used the tactic of attacking Democrats for their past associations or behavior, no matter how tenuous or untethered from reality.

Hannity defended ex-Fox News host and GOP candidate John Kasich over Lehman ties. On his September 15 show, Hannity criticized Gov. Ted Strickland for highlighting Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich's ties to Lehman Brothers, calling it a “personal attack.” He went on to dismiss Kasich's Lehman ties, saying, “What the voters want are jobs. They want a government that's gonna tighten their belt. None of this stuff seems to matter.”

Hannity defended Rand Paul's comments on Civil Rights Act. On his June 10 program, Hannity hosted Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul to push back against claims that he wanted to repeal parts of the Civil Rights Act following comments Paul made opposing elements of the act, particularly as pertains to private businesses. Hannity said to Paul: “When I first saw the news coverage of it, I said, 'What? He doesn't support the Civil Rights Act?' That's how it was portrayed. And you clearly laid out just the opposite, and it was very clear.” Hannity also claimed that the media “tried to purposely distort” what Paul had said.

Hannity provides forum for GOP fundraising

Hannity hosted Rep. Frank's opponent Bielat to fundraise for his campaign. On his October 26 show, Hannity hosted Rep. Barney Frank's opponent in the Massachusetts congressional race, Sean Bielat, claiming Frank was “facing the toughest re-election race of his political career.” After playing a clip of Frank saying that “the right-wing media, talk show hosts decided to target me. I've had Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, basically saying things about me that weren't true,” Hannity said: “Nice try, Congressman, but I think the reason you are in the toughest race of your career has nothing to do with me or any other talk show host and everything to do with our next guest, Republican Massachusetts congressional candidate Sean Bielat.” Bielat used his appearance to fundraise, promoting his “money bomb” and mentioning the website where viewers could donate to his campaign.

Hannity hosted Fiorina to plug her website, ask for “help.” On the October 22 edition of his show, Hannity hosted California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who said of her opponent: “Barbara Boxer -- imagine this. Imagine being in Washington, D.C. for 28 years and having nothing to talk about, in terms of your accomplishments on behalf of the people of California. She has nothing to say.” She added: “People can help us out by going to CarlyforCalifornia.com. We can win this race. It is ours to lose now.” Fiorina went on to say: “Think of the symbol and signal it would be to Washington, D.C., if we were to unseat one of the most bitterly partisan, liberal career politicians in Washington, D.C. CarlyforCalifornia.com.” At the end of the interview, she again told viewers: “CarlyforCalifornia.com -- we really can use all the help we can get, and we can beat her.”

Hannity welcomed Kasich back for yet another campaign appearance. On October 15, Hannity hosted Kasich, a former Fox News contributor, who complained that “there's been more money spent against me than any candidate in America.” Kasich then repeatedly used the interview to promote his campaign website and said, “If you have any extra nickels or dimes, please send it our way.” Hannity also asked Kasich, “I want to put this -- put some emphasis on this because this is really important. Explain to people why we cannot afford to lose that race?” Kasich went on to criticize Obama and his policies and repeat GOP talking points.

Hannity hosted O'Donnell to thank him and direct his viewers to her website. On his September 15 program, Hannity hosted O'Donnell to respond to Karl Rove's criticism of her campaign. She used the interview to thank Hannity, calling him the “leader of the band in saying we have got to stand on our principles.” O'Donnell also directed viewers to her website. Hannity again hosted O'Donnell the day after she won her primary, asking her a series of questions that did not deal with the allegations made against her. The interview was later criticized by CNN. Hannity welcomed her back on the show on October 28.

NC Republican fundraised off Hannity/Fox News praise. On September 13, Hannity hosted North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Ilario Pantano and told him that “you belong in Congress. I'm very impressed.” In an email, Pantano highlighted the Fox News exchange to raise campaign funds. The campaign also issued a press release calling the Hannity praise a “significant achievement.”

Hannity allowed Angle to appear on his show as part of her $1 million fundraising “push.” On his September 10 show, Hannity hosted Angle as part of a "push" to raise $1 million online before the end of September. During the appearance, Angle called Hannity a “great American” and went on to attack Reid, who she said “doesn't want to take responsibility” for the current economic situation in Nevada. Hannity, who has said Nevada voters "have a duty" to throw Reid out of office, also accused him of running negative attack ads against Angle and asked her how she would respond. Angle replied: “Harry Reid has $25 million and I need a million people with $25 to go to SharronAngle.com.”

Hannity invited Angle on Fox News to promote her website, ask viewers for money. On his June 14 Fox News show, Hannity hosted Angle, who used her interview on Hannity to promote her website and ask viewers for money. Two weeks later, Hannity allowed contributor Dick Morris to fundraise for Angle on air, saying, “It is crucial in the next week or two that everybody do everything they can to help Sharron Angle. Doesn't matter if you live in Nevada, you can help her anyway.” During another Hannity appearance, Morris asked viewers to give money to an anti-Harry Reid group he's advising.

Hannity aired Republican Governors Association ad against Gov. Strickland. On September 8, Hannity aired a Republican Governors Association ad attacking Strickland. Republican pollster Frank Luntz then praised the ad and used it to pivot to an attack on Democratic policies, saying: “You never see a negative ad score so well among Republicans and Democrats alike. It didn't matter. They listened to the ad. And that last sentence, 'I wonder when [our jobs] will go,' is something that every American is thinking right now. 'When's it going to be my job on the line,' despite a trillion dollars of stimulus, despite bailouts of these companies.”

Hannity, Perino team up to give CA candidate the FoxPAC treatment. During a special weekend edition of Hannity, an 8-minute segment was devoted to a profile of Damon Dunn, a candidate for California secretary of state. The segment, narrated by Fox News contributor Dana Perino, included dramatic music and a dramatization of one incident in Dunn's young life. Hannity followed that up with another segment on his show the next week, hosting Dunn for a softball interview. Dunn was allowed to fundraise and promote his website on air.

Hannity lets GOP candidates attack opponents, administration

Hannity hosted VA congressional candidate Robert Hurt to attack Democratic opponent. On the October 29 edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), Hannity hosted Republican candidate Robert Hurt, a Virginia state senator who is running for Virginia's 5th District. Throughout the interview, Hurt repeatedly attacked his opponent, Rep. Tom Perriello, who he said “totally disregarded what he was told, by the people that he represented. He did not represent the people when he went to Washington. He sided with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. He has done that on all of these signature items that Nancy Pelosi has asked him to vote for.” Hurt also accused Perriello of running 11 negative attack ads against him. He ended the interview by telling viewers to go to his campaign website.

Hannity hosted O'Donnell to attack Coons. On October 28, Hannity hosted O'Donnell and allowed her to attack Coons and repeat her campaign talking points. At the beginning of the interview, Hannity stated: “We've also offered her Democratic challenger, Chris Coons, an opportunity to appear on the show. Shock -- he's not responded to our interview request.”

Hannity hosted NY congressional candidate during “Great American Panel.” Later on his October 28 show, New York GOP congressional candidate Michael Grimm appeared as a part of Hannity's “Great American Panel.” Discussing President Obama's appearance on The Daily Show, Grimm attacked Obama, saying that “the hope and change that we all expected didn't go the way he planned.”

Hannity hosted “real Republican” John Raese. Hannity hosted West Virginia senatorial candidate John Raese on the October 27 edition of his Fox News show, referring to Raese as a “real Republican” and asserting that Raese's opponent, Gov. Joe Manchin, is “running as far away from being a Democrat and Barack Obama and Harry Reid of anybody else out there.” Hannity noted during the interview that “we have also offered Governor Manchin an opportunity to appear on the show, and he as not yet responded to our interview request.”

Hannity included California congressional candidate Nick Popaditch in his “Great American Panel.” Hannity hosted Republican candidate Nick Popaditch during his “Great American Panel” on October 26. During the segment, Popaditch, who is running for California's 51st District, attacked Obama, claiming he “is in trouble” because he's “campaigning, so he's out there only representing some of the people, and a pretty extreme some.”

Hannity hosted Steele to attack Democrats, Obama, and to give Hannity some RNC paraphernalia. On October 26, Hannity also hosted Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. After Hannity claimed Obama “said Republicans can go to the back of the bus,” Steele called him “not very presidential” and “tone deaf.” Steele gave Hannity a “Fire Pelosi” baseball cap and miniature football, “because I know you've been talking to me” about it.

Hannity invited Rand Paul back yet again to speak through Fox News. On October 19, Hannity allowed Paul to attack the Obama administration and his opponent, saying that his Democratic challenger, Jack Conway, “is on the wrong side” of a lot of issues, including cap and trade and health care reform. Paul added that because Conway “knows he can't win on the issues ... he's got to attack me.”

Hannity hosted Bielat to attack Rep. Frank, Park51. On the August 23 edition of Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Bielat and Hannity attacked the Park51 project before Hannity began promoting Bielat's campaign. Hannity asked Bielat: “We saw what happened, obviously, with Scott Brown. Do you think you can take out” Frank? He then allowed Bielat to attack Frank, claiming that Frank is “running scared” and has “changed his positions on Fannie and Freddie.”

Hannity is an unabashed fundraiser and campaigner for the GOP

Hannity: I've “urged” voters without a competitive race to “adopt a candidate” outside their states. On his October 4 radio show, Hannity stated: “I've urged people, by the way, if they're in districts or states where they don't have important races going on, to sort of go out there and adopt a candidate. Sharron Angle is in the fight of her life in Nevada, in trying to unseat Harry Reid.” Hannity also referred to the races of Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk and Washington Senate candidate Dino Rossi, a guest on the show, as possible adoption targets.

Hannity to Kasich: “I stand proudly in Kasich's corner with an endorsement.” On his October 19 radio show, Hannity hosted Kasich, who again asked listeners to go to his campaign website and donate money. Hannity went on to say that he “supports” Kasich, adding, “I stand proudly in Kasich's corner with an endorsement, as long as it doesn't hurt you.” Kasich replied: “We want all the help you can give us, Sean. They love you out here.” Hannity ended the interview by saying, “Two weeks -- this is an important race; really important race.”

Hannity is the most prolific Kasich backer. Not only has Hannity repeatedly referred to Kasich as “governor” and “soon-to-be governor,” he also reportedly held a pricey fundraiser for him in October 2009 and encouraged him to run in 2008.

  • On June 1, 2009, Kasich appeared on Hannity's Fox News program to discuss his announcement that day that he was formally running for governor. Kasich had previously explored the possibility of a run while still employed by Fox News. Hannity touted the national importance of the race for his audience (from Nexis):

HANNITY: This is important for the Republican Party, because if they don't win Ohio in a presidential election, their chances of winning that White House are minimal. ... It is pivotal for the Republican resurgence.

  • During a July 8, 2009, interview with Kasich, Hannity said Kasich “helped get us on a balanced budget plan using real congressional budget office numbers.” At the conclusion of the interview, Hannity told Kasich: “You do me a favor. Go get elected governor, although why you would ever want that job, you're out of your mind, but good luck. And I'm supporting you in the effort.”
  • Kasich appeared on Hannity's July 29, 2009, show, with Hannity referring to Kasich as “Congressman -- well, soon to be governor.” Hannity concluded the interview by telling Kasich: “Governor-to-be, things are looking good out there in Ohio. We'll be following your race very closely. Good to see you, Congressman and soon-to-be governor.”
  • Kasich appeared on the August 26, 2009, edition of Hannity, with Hannity calling him “Congressman, Governor-to-be, Governor-elect, if you will -- I'm not -- I'm not jumping the gun here.” Hannity concluded the interview by telling Kasich: “You can help us. Win the state of Ohio. Bring Ohio back to the red column.”
  • On his December 15, 2009, program, Hannity called Kasich “the future governor of the great state of Ohio,” adding, “You're up in the polls.”
  • On June 15, Hannity introduced Kasich on Fox by calling him “our good friend ... You're a great American.” Hannity later told Kasich: “You know, you did show leadership when you helped back get the country on a balanced budget, I'll never forget.” Hannity concluded by stating, “It's good to see you governor.”

Hannity reportedly attended fundraiser for Kasich. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in October 2009 that Kasich was “bringing conservative pundit Hannity of Fox News to Northeast Ohio for a high-dollar fund-raiser. The Oct. 9 event will be at GOP stalwart and millionaire industrialist Ed Crawford's home in Kirtland Hills.” Tickets reportedly “cost between $500 and $5,000.” Hannity was scheduled to do an April fundraiser but it was reportedly canceled. A September 4, 2008, Plain Dealer article (retrieved from Nexis) reported that Hannity “has been encouraging Kasich to run for governor.” A Dayton Daily News article (from Nexis) that day similarly reported that Hannity “pledged to give $10,000 to Kasich's campaign should he run, as well as have his wife give another $10,000.”

Hannity told Raese he's “urging” West Virginians to help him. On his October 13 radio program, Hannity told Raese that he's “urging everybody in West Virginia” to support him, saying that “this is key, if we're gonna get the country back on track, that you win this race.” He added: “We really wish you the best, and if we can help, please let us know.” Raese went on to promote his campaign website.

“Game-changer”: Hannity goes all in for candidate Gomez. Hannity has made good on his reported promise to political leaders that he would use his media position to promote, fundraise, and bring in headliners for New York Republican congressional candidate John Gomez. On March 7, before the nominee selection, Newsday reported that Gomez is “among the GOP front-runners to take on five-term Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) because he has an 800-pound gorilla in his corner: megastar radio and Fox TV conservative pundit Sean Hannity.” The Long Island paper reported that the Fox News host assured leaders that he would “do all he could” to promote Gomez, help him fundraise and bring in headliners for events.

  • In late June, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich headlined a fundraiser for Gomez. According to FEC records, the Gomez campaign paid $10,921 to fly Gingrich in on a private plane. Last month, Newsday reported (via Nexis) that “Gomez arranged Gingrich's visit through childhood friend and TV host Sean Hannity.”
  • In July, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared at a Gomez rally and fundraiser. The day before her appearance, Hannity hosted Bachmann on his Fox News program to tout Gomez and a Long Island rally. Bachmann is a frequent guest on Hannity's radio and television programs, and Hannity and his wife have donated to Bachmann's political action committee.
  • Another Hannity friend, conservative radio host Mark Levin, issued a message of support for Gomez early in the campaign. Hannity, in turn, forwarded Levin's message to his radio show subscriber list.
  • Fox News contributor Sarah Palin -- a frequent guest on Hannity's programs -- endorsed Gomez in a July 28 tweet.
  • Fox News contributor Dick Morris -- another frequent Hannity guest -- included Gomez in a September 7 email on “KEY HOUSE RACES THAT NEED HELP.” Morris wrote that Gomez “isn't on the radar screens, but has a good chance of pulling an upset but needs funding. To donate online to Gomez's campaign, Go Here.” Morris mentioned Gomez on Hannity's September 9 Fox News program as a candidate in one of “the 10 new House races that are the new swing races.”
  • On his September 24 radio program, Hannity interviewed Gomez and helped him solicit donations, stating: “I donated, and my wife donated.” According to FEC records, Hannity and his wife donated a total of $9,600 to Gomez's campaign for the primary and general.

Hannity touted his support for O'Donnell. On the September 14 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity highlighted how “talk radio, including myself and Mark Levin and Rush and others ... got involved in the Delaware primary and people's awareness went up.” He declared that O'Donnell's success was another sign that “we are seeing the establishment being beaten by the tea party movement and by conservatives that are saying, you know what? We've had it with RINO [Republican In Name Only] Republicans.”

Hannity has long history of raising money for right-wing candidates and causes

Amidst criticism, Fox News prevented Hannity from taping his April 15 show at a Cincinnati Tea Party event that charged admission and had “all proceeds” benefitting the organization. However, Hannity has a long history of raising money for and championing Republican interests.

  • Hannity was the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee in March, which raised more than $7 million.
  • Hannity helped raise money for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign.
  • Hannity raised campaign money for Jeanine Pirro's 2006 U.S. Senate campaign in New York, pledging a “maximum” contribution to her bid and asking listeners to donate as well.
  • On his syndicated radio program, Hannity told New Jersey listeners to “get to the polls” and “stop Obamacare in its tracks.” Hannity, of course, frequently uses his Fox News program as a platform for conservative causes.
  • Hannity frequently promoted the April 15, 2009, “FNC Tax Day Tea Party” protests by providing on-air information about the protests and encouraging viewers to “join us.” Hannity also encouraged viewers to “send us your 'Tax Day Tea Party' videos'.”
  • Hannity lauded town hall disrupters in August 2009, saying, “That's a pretty good way to fight back.” On his personal website, which is frequently promoted on his Fox News program, Hannity asked readers to “FIGHT OBAMA CARE TODAY! Become a part of the mob! Attend an Obama Care Townhall near you!”
  • During a September 7, 2009, rally, Hannity said: “We got rid of one [czar], and my job, starting tomorrow night is to get rid of every other one. I promise you that.”