Benghazi fundraising draws criticism

Democrats to NRCC chair Walden: Stop using attack to solicit campaign contributions

By Andrew Clevenger / The Bulletin / @andclev


Published May 14, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated May 14, 2014 at 06:26AM

WASHINGTON — The National Republican Congressional Committee’s use of the 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi as a fundraising appeal for the 2014 elections has some Democrats criticizing NRCC chairman Greg Walden, R-Hood River.

Speaking on Monday during a luncheon sponsored by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, House Speaker John Boehner said he had nothing to do with the decision to use Benghazi to solicit campaign funds.

“Listen, I’m involved in this investigation; I’m not involved in what goes on in the campaign committee,” Boehner said, according to the Washington magazine Politico. “All I know is that we’re trying to get to the truth here.”

Boehner added that the Democrats are probably also fundraising off Benghazi and likely used Hurricane Katrina to fundraise.

“I don’t know what the fundraising arm is doing. All I know is that it’s time to get to the truth,” he said.

In response, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called for Walden to clarify his own role in the decision to launch BenghaziWatchdogs.com, which calls on supporters to contribute to the NRCC.

“House Republicans will make sure that no one will get away from (Benghazi select committee chairman, South Carolina Rep. Trey) Gowdy and the Select Committee,” the website reads. “This is going to be a national effort for a national investigation.”

In an email Tuesday, DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin called on Walden to justify his decision to use the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, to raise campaign funds for the 2014 midterm elections.

“NRCC Chairman Greg Walden needs to explain once and for all why he feels that it is appropriate for him to use the Benghazi tragedy to fundraise — even after leading members of his own party have condemned his actions,” Schwerin said. “Speaker Boehner is trying to throw Walden under the bus, and it’s time for Walden to come out of hiding and take responsibility for his decisions.”

Walden could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said the criticism was an effort to deflect attention from the investigation into the administration’s response to the 2012 attack in Libya.

“The Obama administration has not been honest with the American people with regards to Benghazi, and if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker, the American people will never know the truth. Our goal is to hold Democrats in Congress accountable who vote against creating the select committee on Benghazi and who continue to try to sweep this controversy under the rug,” she said.

Bozek noted that Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both D-Ore., had used the war in Afghanistan and sexual assault in the military, respectively, to rally their own supporters.

After the Benghazi Watchdogs site went up this month, DCCC chairman Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., called on Boehner and Walden to take it down.

“Fundraising off the Benghazi tragedy is despicable and insulting and has no place in the national conversation,” he said in a prepared statement. “Speaker Boehner and Chairman Walden should immediately take down (the website) and stop insulting the memory of the brave Americans who were lost there.”

Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Gowdy said he personally would not use Benghazi to solicit campaign contributions. But Democrats had “selective amnesia” when it comes to using tragedies to fundraise, he said.

“They raised money on Sandy Hook; they raised money on Katrina; they raised money on Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gowdy said.

The other Republican members of the select committee are Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. House Democrats have not indicated whether they would agree to participate in the select committee.

— Reporter: 202-662-7456, aclevenger@bendbulletin.com