Pac-Backed Committees Give Smith $200,000
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda Smith, a harsh critic of fellow politicians who take special-interest money, is accepting $200,000 in support from national Republican groups that rely on corporate and tobacco-industry donations.
Smith and state Republican leaders welcomed the financial boost this morning, saying it will strengthen her chances against Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. They savored a minor victory: Getting Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republicans' money man in Washington, D.C., to open his checkbook for a woman he intensely dislikes.
Smith will get half the money directly from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which McConnell oversees. The National Republican Committee announced this morning that it, too, will transfer another $100,000 to the state party to spend on Smith's behalf.
Murray's campaign immediately called Smith a hypocrite. National Republican groups get much of their money from political-action committees, or PACs.
"What she's done is broken the promise she made," said Murray's spokesman, Rex Carney. "Voters are tired of politicians who talk out of both sides of their mouth."
Smith, a Clark County congresswoman, has railed against tobacco companies and special-interest contributions, saying they have corrupted Congress. When she announced her candidacy last year, Smith, a supporter of campaign-finance reform, said she would "lead by example" and beat Murray without PAC money.
Some of the $200,000 is coming from PACs. But Smith says she's not breaking her vow because it's flowing through the party, and she won't know who the donors are.
Under federal rules, Republican and Democratic committees can contribute to congressional candidates under a mathematical formula based on voter registration.
Smith spokesman Jim Troyer said there is a distinction between accepting money directly from PACs and accepting it from the party on behalf of donors who support Republican principles.
"It's not that there's anything bad about the money," Troyer said. "The issue for her has always been, who gives the money and why are they giving it?"
Smith has already received $55,000 in direct support from the state GOP. And national party support couldn't come at a better time. She's trailing Murray in both fund raising and the polls, and could use the money to shore up television buys and direct-mail efforts.
U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., and State Republican Chairman Dale Foreman lobbied McConnell intensively.
Until this week, McConnell had dispensed to Smith only $17,500. Even with today's contribution, Smith will have received about one-fifth of the $540,000 the NRSC could give. Few expect her to get full party funding, but Republican leaders do hope for more.
Published Correction Date: 10/22/98 - Due To Inaccurate Information From The State Republican Party And Gop Sources In Washington, D.C., The Times Incorrectly Reported In This Article The Amount Of Money Republican Senate Candidate Linda Smith Will Receive From Party Organizations. The Republican National Committee Is Giving The State Party $100,000 To Spend On Smith's Behalf. However, She Will Receive No New Money From The National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.