ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Missouri Democrats are accusing Republican Senate candidate Congressman Todd Akin of selling out by changing his long standing position on budget earmarks. The state Democratic Party filed complaints Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the U.S. House Ethics Committee.
Akin adviser Rick Tyler called the charges “baseless” and “designed to distract voters from Senator McCaskill’s liberal voting record.”
Mike Sanders, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, said Akin shifted his position Monday and now says he is opposed to earmarks after supporting them for years and even defending them in a Senate primary political commercial.
Sanders accused Akin of changing his position, “so he can receive SCF (Senate Conservatives Fund) funding, 250-thousand dollars in his Senate run.” The SCF is a super political action committee that can buy political advertising to support specific candidates but cannot coordinate the advertising with the candidate’s campaign.
Akin told media attending a Monday news conference in Kirkwood, “I am totally against things that are done in the dark of night, there’s been no legislative approval and they are special deals for people.”
Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said, “After discussing the issue with Congressman Akin, we came to realize that our views were not in conflict. He believes Congress must have the power to control spending decisions. We agree, but also believe Congress should not abuse that power by spending that money in ways that serve parochial interests rather than national interests.”
Hoskins indicated the political action committee is polling its members to decide whether to endorse Akin in the Missouri Senate race, but has not made any decision.
“Some have suggested that he has fundamentally changed his position, (on earmarks) but we don’t see that way. Congressman Akin is someone who knows what he believes and doesn’t bend to political pressure,” Hoskins said.
Akin adviser Tyler said there was nothing illegal about the PAC staff inquiring of the Akin campaign staff about the Congressman’s position on earmarks.
Sanders however accused Akin of “negotiating a fundamental change of position based upon cash.” He added, “It has the flavor of bribery, the flavor of ‘pay to play’.”
The McCaskill campaign is labeling Akins’s statement on earmarks as a “flip flop.” McCaskill’s communication director Caitlin Legacki said, “Todd Akin’s rationale or his new definition would possibly work if not for the fact that he has secured those exact dead of night earmarks himself.”
She pointed to a report Senator McCaskill issued in December of 2011 that showed the House Armed Services Committee “buried more than a billion dollars in earmarks in the dead of night,” and Akin was a member of the committee.
Akin’s staff responded pointing to McCaskill’s vote for President Obama’s stimulus bill which they describe as the “largest earmark, pork laden bill in American history.”