POLITICAL INSIDER: Durbin wants ad backers probed

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Posted: Oct 13, 2010 3:07 AM
POLITICAL INSIDER: Durbin wants ad backers probed

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate spending by groups like Crossroads GPS, a third-party group backed by Republican operative Karl Rove, that have pumped millions into advertisements targeting Democrats.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois sent a letter to the IRS on Tuesday asking the agency to "quickly investigate" the tax status of Crossroads GPS and other groups that are running political advertising without disclosing their funding.

The letter, which is directed to IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, says that the IRS needs to "examine the purpose and primary activities" of several 501(c)(4) groups, a reference to the section of the tax code governing such groups. Durbin says they "appear to be in violation of the law."

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EDITOR'S NOTE _ An insider's view of this year's elections based on reports from around the nation.

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Democrats have targeted several groups that are paying for large advertising campaigns against them. Durbin's letter parrots previous attacks by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other top Democrats, but it raises the bar by asking a federal agency to investigate.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio called the letter a partisan stunt, adding "Dick Durbin is apparently starting his campaign to replace Harry Reid for Senate minority leader."

The dig took aim at Reid, currently the top Democrat in the Senate who is among Crossroads' targets and in a tight re-election battle in Nevada.

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At least one House Democrat is embracing his vote in favor of health care overhaul and chiding his Republican opponent for seeking to repeal it.

Freshman New York Rep. Scott Murphy is up with a new campaign ad promoting the benefits of the new health care law. Murphy says his GOP rival, Chris Gibson, wants to return to the days when insurance companies could deny coverage based on pre-existing health conditions and set lifetime limits on coverage.

Gibson has run television ads pledging to repeal the law. Polls show Murphy and Gibson in a tight contest.

Many House Democrats across the country who supported the health care bill have had to defend themselves against a barrage of negative advertising and voter skepticism.

Republicans and outside groups like the 60-Plus Association have run ads criticizing Murphy's vote.

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South Carolina Democrat Alvin Greene has a new default answer when reporters ask him a question: "Jim DeMint started the recession."

The unemployed, long-shot candidate repeatedly leveled the accusation against the incumbent GOP senator during an interview with liberal talk show host Lawrence O'Donnell. When asked about his campaign or even his nickname, Greene returned to the charge.

"DeMint started the recession," Greene said Monday. "DeMint was responsible for the recession. I'm the best candidate that defines where we at right now in this country."

When pushed to answer questions about his bid, Greene flatly refused. "No."

O'Donnell asked Greene how DeMint was to blame for the 15 million Americans who are out of work.

"Irresponsible spending, record cuts to education and, you know, supporting the Bush tax plan, mismanagement of federal resources," he said.

Greene surprised South Carolina Democrats when he won the Senate nomination without campaigning. National Democrats have written off the race and have tried to distance themselves from him.

Greene faces misdemeanor and felony charges accusing him of communicating and disseminating obscene materials during an encounter with a teenage college student last year. His lawyer says Greene was just trying to flirt with the woman when he allegedly showed her online pornography in a computer lab.

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Benjamin Franklin gave the world a "self-cleaning oven" of democracy, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says.

Huckabee, a 2008 presidential hopeful and potential 2012 candidate, said the tea party is a citizen uprising sparked by excessive government spending and borrowing. But he warned Republicans that whatever seats they win in next month's election isn't an indication that voters favor them, but of anger against the Democrats.

"This is an affirmation and genius of our Founding Fathers," Huckabee said on CBS' "Early Show."

"They created America to be a self-cleaning oven. So when the politicians really get it gunked up, the citizens can turn up the heat. Come Nov. 2 we're going to open the oven door, sweep out the ashes and start again."

Ultimately the American people will win in November, Huckabee said.

"If Republicans have so much as a single-digit IQ, they're going to do something to make government responsible, which it hasn't been for a very, very long time."

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Quick hits:

_The $1 million that retiring Sen. Evan Bayh gave Indiana Democrats to help Rep. Brad Ellsworth win his seat won't be spent on TV ads. State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker says the party won't run Senate ads using the approximately $850,000 available to help Ellsworth directly. That cash will be spent on staff, direct mail and polling for Ellsworth and other Democratic candidates. Ellsworth trails Republican Dan Coats and acknowledges that Coats is outspending him on ads.

_Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum says he's leaning toward voting for fellow Republican Rick Scott in next month's governor's election despite their acrimonious, name-calling primary campaign. It was the closest McCollum has come to indicating that he's gotten over some of the bitterness that followed his loss to Scott in the August primary election after their rancorous Republican gubernatorial primary contest.

_Nevada Republican Sharron Angle says she has raised $14 million in three months in her bid to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The cascade of cash between July and September is a worrying sign for the Democratic leader, who is locked in a dead heat with Angle. Angle's campaign did not immediately release figures showing how much money she had left in the bank for the campaign's stretch run.

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Associated Press writers Henry C. Jackson in Washington and Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.