Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Atkinson's campaign income: on the backs of sleaze

One week ago, I posted a query at the Unofficial Atkinson for Governor site regarding Atkinson's benefactor James Leininger. Leininger is a hardcore conservative Texan with a wide homophobic streak. Leininger has made a habit of going after moderate Republicans who support civil rights for gays and lesbians.

To the credit of those who run the Atkinson blog, my post was left up. I fully expected them to edit me out. Perhaps because I made mention of that expectation they left it intact. Whatever the reason, my post is still there. And with one exception, largely left unanswered.

The nature of my query was to find out how Atkinson's supporters feel about him taking $50k from the likes of Leininger. The one response I did get cast the contribution as "no big deal" and used the "everyone does it" meme to say that Atkinson isn't the only one taking money from outside the state. But the apples and oranges used to make the comparisons belie the strength of the argument. Getting money from national groups that the candidate is a member of is a lot different than a gazillionaire with a bone crushing hatred of gays writing a fat check.

I don't honestly know if the lack of response is indifference, low traffic to the site or not having a good answer to the question. Or maybe its a combination of factors. Either way, Atkinson supporters don't seem too worked up that their guy is taking large amounts of cash from a fringe element whackjob who has nothing to do with the best interest of Oregonians.

Unfortunately, Atkinson's campaign donor indiscretions don't stop there. Atkinson also accepted $5000 from Bill Frist's Volunteer PAC. Why the Senate Majority Leader would be shuffling money to a gubernatorial primary is beyond me. Clearly Atkinson has a solid network outside the state. But Frist's PAC hasn't exactly been clean. The FEC levied $10,000 in fines against Volunteer PAC last year for reporting violations. When Frist's cushy flights on pharmaceutical company jets were outed, the person trotted out for damage control was the spokesperson for Volunteer PAC. And while the PAC is allegedly set up to send money to campaigns, Frist does seem to use it for his personal slush fund, too.

Nothing about this is illegal. But it does seem as though Atkinson is willing to rub elbows with some pretty unsavory characters to pad his campaign coffers.