Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is warning his South Dakota constituents about "out-of-state special interests" criticizing his voting record in Congress, but records show a majority of his campaign money came from out-of-state donors.
Missing from that March 20 warning, which came in the form of a letter to South Dakotans, was the fact that campaign finance records show more than 85 percent of the money in Daschle's reelection war chest comes from contributors outside the state.
Daschle sent the letter to defend himself against the "partisan obstructionist" label he says is being applied to him by his political opponents, "primarily based in Washington."
"Something new and disturbing is going on in South Dakota," Daschle wrote. "Out-of-state special interests that cannot win on the Senate floor have brought their brand of dishonest, attack politics to our state."
Who's Out-of-State Money Are We Talking About Here?
There was no mention in Daschle's letter of the amount of campaign money he has raised from out-of-state sources.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Daschle's most recent Federal Election Commission fundraising reports showed receipts of $2,452,847.
Of that amount, $2,078,495 - or 85.4 percent - came from donors outside South Dakota, according to the records.
Based on metropolitan areas in which donors live, Daschle received the most money from New York, Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles/Long Beach area and San Francisco.
Rapid City, the only South Dakota city to show up on Daschle's top five metropolitan area donors list, came in fifth on the list with $38,860 in contributions, representing 8.8 percent of the total metro contributions from around the country.
Daschle concluded the letter to his constituents saying, "It should come as no surprise that some special interests will mislead you about the facts," he said.
While Daschle rails against out-of-town money being used to examine his record without making mention of his own connections to out-of-town cash, there is some truth to the senator's accusations.
Follow the Money
Two of the local groups that are opposed to Daschle's recent vote-blocking tactics in the Senate are the South Dakota Family Policy Council and the Rushmore Policy Council.
Both groups have been running advertisements criticizing Daschle for "doing the bidding of liberal special interest groups and radical environmental activists."
But the advertising effort is done in 'partnership' with the Washington, D.C.-based group American Renewal, which serves as the legislative arm of the conservative Family Research Council.
American Renewal Executive Director Richard Lessner said his organization helped coordinate the ads for the two South Dakota groups. No information was available on how much money for the advertising effort came from South Dakota and how much came from elsewhere.
Nonetheless, he called Daschle's letter "plainly deceptive."
"Senator Daschle has repeatedly abused the power of his position to block important legislative matters from reaching the Senate floor," Lessner said.
He pointed to the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the federal bench. The nomination stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee and was not brought to the Senate floor for a straight confirmation vote.
Another target for criticism is Daschle's blockage of President Bush's energy bill, which Lessner said Daschle refused to allow the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to consider.
Supporters believe there were enough votes in the Senate to pass both measures.
"South Dakotans should not be deceived," said Lessner. "Only Tom Daschle stands in the way of floor votes on these and other important matters."
He found it ironic that Daschle is willing to attack "out-of-state special interests" for "misleading" South Dakotans, while he is receiving a majority of his campaign funding from out-of-state contributors.
"This is typical of the kind of hypocrisy and demagoguery we've come to expect from Tom Daschle," Lessner said.
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