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Updated: May 8, 9:55 a.m.
In a publicity move designed to dampen the morale of House Republicans six months out from the 2012 elections, operatives from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hand-delivered a “scandal” calendar to every GOP lawmaker Monday.
Each month from the calendar features a GOP lawmaker and a caption about his or her ethics troubles, with January graced by Rep. Vern Buchanan (Fla.), the finance chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee who is under investigation for possible campaign finance improprieties.
The DCCC operatives visited Buchanan’s office first of the 242 GOP Members, asking a young woman manning the front desk whether she would deliver the calendar to Buchanan. “Uh, sure,” she said.
The calendar and its companion website resemble efforts in 2006 by Democrats to seize on the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which is widely regarded as hurting Republicans at the ballot box and contributing to their loss of the House majority that year.
But the confrontational delivery method used by the campaign committee illustrates how the tactic is as much about getting in Republicans’ heads as it is in swaying voters’ minds.
“P.S. If you would like an additional copy [of the calendar], they are available at HouseOfScandal.org,” a cover letter to the lawmakers teases. The calendar is on sale at the site for $19.95.
Some Democrats say policy differences between the two parties will drive the election more than ethics questions.
“The ‘scandal’ we’re going to beat Republicans with is their proposal to charge seniors $6,000 more for Medicare,” said Steve Murphy of Murphy Vogel Askew Reilly, a prominent Democratic consultant.
Certainly the 112th Congress has faced its share of ethics scandals and investigations.
Rep. Michael Grimm (N.Y.), who is featured on the calendar for February, the month of his birthday, faces a potential FBI probe into allegations that he tried to strong-arm an influential Israeli rabbi into giving him campaign cash.
Rep. David Rivera (Fla.), October’s lawmaker, is under fire for falsely amended campaign disclosures and receiving reimbursements from his campaign and government accounts to cover personal expenses, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report.
NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas), the December lawmaker, was referred to the House Ethics Committee for a loan he received from defunct mortgage giant Countrywide Financial Corp.
But scandals have cut across both sides of the aisle this Congress.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned after admitting he tweeted lewd photographs to a young woman who was not his wife.