- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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.

Mr. Walz has received $3,000 from Mr. Weiner in past years, the NRCC says.

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.

“I know Congressman Weiner. I wish there were some way I could defend him, but I can’t,” said Mr. Reid when asked by a reporter if Mr. Weiner should step down.

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.

“The Democratic leadership would probably rather have him resign than stick around and embarrass the Democratic Party brand,” Mr. Bonjean said.

“He’s basically a walking black hole. Everybody wants to stay away from him and not get sucked into the mess.”

A slim majority of New Yorkers say Mr. Weiner should remain in office, though a larger majority say the lawmaker should give up aspirations of running for mayor, a new poll says.

A NY1-Marist Poll survey conducted hours after Mr. Weiner admitted to sending the lewd photo on Twitter showed that 51 percent of New York City voters said Mr. Weiner shouldn’t resign from Congress, with 30 percent said he should step down. Eighteen percent said they aren’t sure.

But when it comes to the 2013 race for New York City mayor, 56 percent said they don’t want him to make a bid for the office, including a majority of Democrats, the poll says.