Republicans have called on several House Democrats to return “tainted” campaign money they’ve received from embattled Rep. Anthony D. Weiner in an attempt to link the New Yorker’s damaged reputation to others in his party.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the fundraising arm of the House GOP, has targeted 16 House Democrats expected to face tough GOP challenges in the 2012 elections for its anti-Weiner campaign.
The NRCC also called on the Democratic lawmakers to condemn the actions of Mr. Weiner, who admitted Monday he lied to the public after being caught sending a photo of himself in underwear to a college student via Twitter.
Rep. Tim Walz “now faces a choice between returning the scandal-tainted donations he has received from Congressman Weiner or silently condoning his colleague’s lewd and bizarre behavior that could lead to a potential ethics violation,” said NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay in a press release that targeted the Minnesota Democrat.
“It comes down to whether Walz is willing to put the needs of his Minnesota constituents ahead of his Washington Democrat allies and his own political coffers.”
The NRCC distributed similarly worded press releases for the other targeted Democrats.
At least one of the 16 Democrats, Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio, has said she will donate to charity the money she received from Mr. Weiner, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Mrs. Sutton’s office didn’t return a request for comment regarding the $1,000.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, on Tuesday sent a letter to the House ethics committee asking for a formal investigation to determine if Mr. Weiner broke chamber rules. The panel likely will focus on whether the lawmaker used government equipment to send the lewd photo.
But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said an investigation by Mr. Weiner’s peers wasn’t necessary and demanded he resign immediately.
“We do not need an investigation to know he lied and acted inappropriately. We need a resignation,” Mr. Priebus said. “Either Leader Pelosi and [Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie] Wasserman Schultz believe members of Congress are held to a different set of standards, or they believe these actions demand his resignation.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, distanced himself from Mr. Weiner on Tuesday, saying he couldn’t defend the New Yorker, but stopped short of asking him to resign.
When the majority leader was asked what advice he would give if Mr. Weiner called him and asked, he quipped, “Call somebody else.”
Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist, says don’t expect many Democrats to come to Mr. Weiner’s defense.