By now, it’s old news that Senator Arlen Specter switched parties to join the Democratic majority in the Senate. Earlier this week PaperTrail took a look at the money that Specter might be giving back in the coming months, if Republicans take him up on his offer to return campaign donations “upon request” The move raises another interesting question though: Specter’s PAC has been quite generous to his former Republican caucus-mates. Will his GOP colleagues, in addition to blasting his move across the aisle, also return his PAC’s money? After all, quite a few of them have taken it.
Though Specter may not have been ideologically in tune with the GOP at all times, he was certainly a frequent supporter through his Big Tent PAC. A study of filing records from the subscription-only CQ MoneyLine reveals that Specter’s PAC gave out $367,800 to political candidates since his re-election in 2004. $37,800 of that was given to national and local Republican Party organizations. That number includes a $15,000 donation to the National Republican Senate Committee, the single largest amount of money paid out by Specter’s PAC during this period.
Some other notable recipients:
• Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that Specter’s defection created a “threat to the country,” received $5,000.
• Republican Conference Chair Lamar Alexander was given a contribution of $10,000.
• Norm Coleman, who is fighting to prevent Democrats from seating Al Franken and claiming a 60th Senate seat, received $5,000.
• Former Presidential nominee John McCain received $7,500.
And while RNC Chair Michael Steele, who earlier this year expressed a willingness to consider withholding party funds from Specter’s re-election campaign even as a Republican, is running around calling Specter “downright rude,” he hasn’t always felt that way: Steele accepted $5,000 from Specter’s PAC during his 2006 run for a senate seat in Maryland.
In addition, 24 candidates from Pennsylvania received money from Specter, reaching a total of $116,500. While some in the Republican party of Pennsylvania may say they are happy to see Specter gone, come election season they might find they miss his donations.