Cicilline dismisses Doherty offer to return PAC campaign cashJuly 25th, 2012 at 4:39 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Cicilline’s allies slammed Doherty’s campaign this week for accepting $10,000 in February from the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, the PAC affiliated with the group behind the famous U.S. Supreme Court case striking down limits on campaign contributions.
Doherty’s campaign responded by offering to return the Citizens United money and the rest of his PAC cash – if Cicilline does so, too. Federal Election Commission records show Cicilline has collected $388,256 from PACs and other non-party groups, four times more than Doherty, who has gotten $92,000.
Cicilline spokeswoman Nicole Kayner didn’t respond directly to the proposal. ”This is more political double-speak from the Doherty campaign,” she told WPRI.com. “This is not about a group supporting one candidate or another. This is about whether or not we are going to allow secret, corporate money into our elections with no disclosure or limits.”
Kayner said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already spent more than $250,000 airing TV commercials in Rhode Island supporting Doherty’s candidacy. “Brendan Doherty is benefiting from Citizens United … far beyond the $10,000 donation he accepted from them,” she said, adding that unlike Cicilline, Doherty hasn’t expressed support for U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s DISCLOSE Act on reporting donations.
Ian Prior, Doherty’s campaign manager, quickly fired back. “This is the kind of cowardly response one would expect from a career politician who misled an entire electorate to get elected and who is now continuing to mislead in his desperate attempt to hold on to power,” he told WPRI.com.
“The fact of the matter is that neither campaign can control independent expenditures put into races,” Prior said. “Moreover, the DISCLOSE Act is not going to pass before the election. But what the candidates in this race can control is PAC contributions to their campaigns.”
“If Congressman Cicilline really wants to take the special interests out of this election, he should have the courage to lead by example, not by sound bite,” he added. “We have offered to return PAC contributions and forego future PAC contributions provided that he do the same.”
Kayner kept the focus on the DISCLOSE Act. “David strongly opposes the Citizens United decision and has cosponsored the House version of the DISCLOSE Act,” she said. “The Citizens United decision may be good for Brendan Doherty but it is bad for democracy and bad for Rhode Island.”
Prior countered that Cicilline “and his surrogates should stop pretending to care about this issue and focus on the fact that Congressman Cicilline and his economic policies have failed the people of Rhode Island.”
A spokesman for Anthony Gemma, Cicilline’s opponent in the Democratic primary, didn’t respond to a request for comment. In Massachusetts, U.S. Senate candidates Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren signed an agreement in January to offset outside expenditures in their race [pdf].