Why Haven't Republicans Returned Vitter Contributions?

June 09, 2011 2:13 pm ET — Jamison Foser

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is calling on Democrats to return campaign contributions received from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in the wake of Weiner's controversial tweets. But the GOP's belief that members of Congress should return contributions received from scandal-plagued colleagues is rather intermittent. 

In 2008, for example, the NRCC called for Democrats to return contributions received from then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer — but, as Citizens for Ethics And Responsibility in Washington (CREW) noted at the time, Republicans had not returned contributions from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) despite his solicitation of prostitutes. In fact, CREW noted, "Rather than being condemned and ostracized, Sen. Vitter received a standing ovation at a Republican Caucus luncheon after his transgressions became public."

Republicans continue to take contributions from Louisiana Reform PAC, Vitter's leadership PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics:

Louisiana Reform PAC contributions

Then there's former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who gave tens of thousands of (unreturned) contributions to Republicans via his campaign committee and his Battle Born leadership PAC. One notable recipient of Ensign money: Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R), who got $10,000 from Battle Born PAC for his 2004 campaign and then helped negotiate a settlement between Ensign and his mistress's husband.

Finally, Huffington Post reports:

Furthermore, about 14 Republicans never returned contributions from the GOP's own shirtless cyber hound, former New York Rep. Chris Lee, who quit after his lewd flirtations on Cragslist came to light. Among recipients of his cash were fellow New York GOP Reps. Nan Hayworth, Ann Marie Buerkle, Tom Reed and Chris Gibson.

In noting the GOP's 2008 hypocrisy, CREW explained:

Government officials must obey all laws, not just those with which they agree. We do not, however, advocate returning legal campaign donations made by officials who broke the law when the contributions are in no way tied to the illegal activity. Nevertheless, we note that what is good for the goose should be good for the gander and, therefore, point out the following contributions made by Sen. Vitter.

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