The oddest primary campaign in years — the not-quite-declared Pennsylvania race between incumbent Arlen Specter and now-former Club for Growth President Pat Toomey — has taken two more strange turns.
Back on April 3, Specter wrote a letter to Toomey, then still at CFG, asking him for the private financial information of CFG members:
I understand from numerous press reports that you are soon to leave the Presidency of the Club for Growth to run for the U.S. Senate.
In recent weeks as you have shifted your attention from a long-planned run for Governor to another Senate campaign, you have criticized the TARP bill I voted for last fall. Given the Wall Street background of your members, it seems clear that many of them would have received TARP monies.
Please gather a list of the contributors to the Club for Growth by contributor name, date, amount and whether they received TARP money and if so, how much and when.
Toomey didn’t respond, but his successor — former Indiana Cong. Chris Chocola — did today.
Chocola essentially told Specter to buzz off:
As the new president of the Club for Growth, I am in receipt of your faxed letter dated April 3, 2009 inquiring about the membership of the Club. I am happy to respond.
The Club for Growth is a 40,000 member grassroots national organization with members in all 50 states. We are dedicated to the principles of promoting individual freedom, limited government, and economic growth. We have a policy of not accepting corporate or labor union contributions, and such donations are banned under our bylaws. Therefore, since corporations and labor unions may not donate or become members, none of our members have received funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
We do not inquire with our 40,000 individual members about their personal finances, so we do not know how many of our members, if any, have received compensation from institutions that have received TARP funds. In the event that any members did receive such income, they surely do not have the Club for Growth to thank for it, as we were — and remain — among the most vocal opponents of the legislation. We do not believe taxpayers should be hit with the burden of bailing out failed corporations, whether on Wall Street, the Detroit automakers, or anywhere else.
At the Club for Growth, we very much welcome the opportunity to sit down with Members of Congress and educate them about the importance of safeguarding taxpayers against the dangers of corporate bailouts. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you, and hope that you would change your mind when the next round of Wall Street bailouts is proposed. Such a meeting would also be a good chance to discuss why you supported the Obama stimulus plan, and give me a chance to urge you to oppose the next round of debt-laden “stimulus” that many of your Democratic allies in Congress are urging.
It’s more than a little odd for a U.S. Senator to be asking a conservative group such as CFG for private financial information about its members on the theory they benefitted hypocritically from the TARP funding. Especially Specter, who received large campaign contributions from transportation worker unions ($110,000) building trade unions ($104, 459) and public sector unions ($100,350), whose members will be on the receiving end of President Obama’s trillion-dollar “stimulus” spending. (Specter got these contributions in the 2007-2008 cycle alone.)
But no stranger than Specter’s statement Monday to a group of Philadelphia retailers, asking them for their primary day votes.
As reported by today’s Washington Post, Specter said, “I don’t know if there are any Democrats in the room. If there are, I’m going to need you to become Republicans, Republicans at least for a day.”
Is that Specter’s plan for himself, as well?