Monday, October 3, 2005

Set ’em up, Orrin

From the Deseret News via Rachel Maddow:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former LDS [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] bishop who does not drink, has taken more money from wine, beer and liquor groups this year than any other congressional candidate.

The alcohol interests gave him $25,000. Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Calif., whose district is in California’s wine country, is second with $21,568. In third place with $20,000 is Rep. Anne M. Northrup, R-Ky., who represents an area famous for bourbon.

That is not all. Hatch, R-Utah, who follows his LDS faith’s admonition against smoking, took the fifth-most money this year among all congressional candidates from tobacco interests. The $13,000 he took was more than was donated to such tobacco-state politicians as Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. ($11,000), and Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. ($9,500).

Again, Hatch, who says he also opposes gambling, as does his LDS faith, took the 15th most among Senate candidates this year from gambling interests. The $8,000 he accepted was more, for example, than has been accepted by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who also is a Latter-day Saint and who represents a state famous for casinos. Reid took $5,000 from such groups.

Hatch even had a fund-raiser at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas in 2003, aided by a $1,530 “in kind” donation by that casino/hotel for what Hatch’s campaign said was catering and staff time. His campaign said the fund-raiser was not held for gaming interests but for health-care groups that were meeting in Las Vegas.

Rankings for donations by industry come from the Center for Responsive Politics based on data collected through Aug. 15. The Deseret Morning News also searched Federal Election Commission reports filed monthly by political action committees of industry groups to verify data and update it with some more recent donations.

A Hatch spokesman said it is not hypocrisy to take money from groups whose products the senator opposes. The spokesman said the groups may donate because they like Hatch’s stands on many issues besides what he thinks personally of their products. Others question what such special interests may receive for their money.

Dave Hansen, Hatch’s campaign manager, said Friday, “The senator made the decision from the beginning that if a group wanted to make a contribution because what he is doing in Washington is good for Utah and America, and it is a legal and lawful group, he would accept it.”

You know when someone says right out of the gate that “it is not hypocrisy,” they know they’re sure it is, and that Sen. Hatch, like any politician will take money from anyone, regardless of his personal views. To quote Groucho Marx, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”