Since a story by Brad Olson on the Baltimore Sun blog came out on Friday about E.J. Pipkin and his wife donating $1,000 each to Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, much hay has been made about the allegations of “pay to play.” This contribution was actually unearthed by the Club For Growth, a group that has endorsed opponent Andy Harris in Maryland’s February 12th primary.
In claiming he had “no apologies about protecting the Bay,” Pipkin’s campaign had this to say about the contributions:
Recently the Club for Growth has made a media purchase for Andy Harris. In the accompanying press release, there is a reference to a political contribution made by EJ Pipkin to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Pipkin made that donation while a private citizen fighting Democrat Governor Glendening’s efforts to dump in the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay was under attack and Pipkin was using every means possible to protect this unique natural resource.
“I attended an event that had the decision makers in the room. I made our case and they agreed that they dumping should not take place. I make no apologies for doing whatever it took to protect the bay. At the time, it was the most direct way to reach key leaders that were determining the fate of the dumping issue.” Pipkin stated regarding the donation.
Pippin’s campaign manager Mike Brown adds, “The Club for Growth is an extremist group that is nothing more than a front organization set up to funnel money and skirt campaign finance laws. The fact that they are making a buy of this size just shows that they know the same thing we know, Harris is a pitiful candidate and is running an amateur campaign at best.”
Brown continues, “We all know what the polls are showing, Harris is stalled with twenty percent of the vote. Republicans are rejecting his message of hate and negativity. Unfortunately for the Club for Growth, they are aligned with a losing candidate and are desperately trying to not be beaten one ore (sic) time at the ballot box.”
Whether or not the Club For Growth is an extremist organization is up to the reader to decide. The fact is this contribution was made in May of 2000, two years before Pipkin entered electoral politics. In that same cycle (October 2000 and May 2001) he also made two contributions to a man who is now his opponent, Wayne Gilchrest, totaling $1,550. Also Pipkin contributed $2,000 to President Bush’s re-election in December of 2003. Honestly, this is the same reason thousands of other big contributors (such as PAC’s) donate to candidates, just to get that much more of a voice in the political process.
Obviously, Andy’s campaign takes a dimmer view. Campaign manager Chris Meekins noted:
If Pipkin is proud that as a private citizen he was able to buy the influence of an elected official to get what he wanted; does he also believe it is acceptable for an elected official to be influenced by a political contribution?
Donating to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was a poor decision. Trying to use a political donation to influence an elected official is just plain wrong.
I am very disappointed that Senator Pipkin is proud of using a political donation to influence an elected official.
Personally I’m not sure this issue is one that Pipkin hasn’t spun to his advantage. One thing I’ve noticed as a person who’s come from outside Maryland is that there’s just as much advantage in making people believe you’re doing something “for the Bay” as there is in most other places for doing political acts “for the children.”
Raise taxes? Terrible decision. Raise taxes to clean up the Bay? A necessary evil. It’s like a Teflon coating to any political decision.
In truth, Pipkin did what most corporate interests do to maintain their competitive advantage – donate to the party in power at the time. It’s no secret that the Maryland GOP has fallen on financial hard times and part of it stems from losing all of the corporate donations which came from having the governor’s chair. In doing so though Pipkin also placed a tacit stamp of approval on all of the other acts the Glendening administration supported whether intended or not. Of all the parts to this allegation, that is what troubles me the most. I’m not sure I buy the Harris “stalled at 20% part” either.
On the other hand, I’ll also take a moment to note that there’s a dissenting view about my assertion that this is a safe Republican seat. A blogger at the heretofore unknown to me Mainstream Shore argues that a “sensible Republican” is needed to beat odds-on Democrat favorite Frank Kratovil.
But I’ll remind the nice lady (obviously a Pipkin supporter) that once it’s found out what Frank Kratovil really stands for, particularly on health care and the Long War, it’ll be apparent that Frank is really foursquare behind Nancy Pelosi and the other moonbats in Congress on a number of key issues. Again, I’ll be shocked if Kratovil gets 40% in the general no matter the opponent.
Crossposted on Red Maryland.