In addition to donating directly to Adam Kinzinger's campaign, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (above) donated to a super PAC that ran ads against Rep. Don Manzullo.
However, a Schock spokesman later clarified and said the Congressman misspoke and that the donations were not vetted with the NRCC but with attorneys specializing in Federal Election Commission law.
Convinced he was on sound legal footing, Schock approached Cantor.
“I said, ‘Look, I’m going to do $25,000 [specifically] for the Kinzinger campaign for the television campaign’ and said, ‘Can you match that?’”
“And he said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Schock made his donation through his GOP Generation Y Fund leadership PAC.
In a statement released to Roll Call, the CPA did not comment directly on the donations from the two lawmakers, but it said that, “The Campaign for Primary Accountability is committed to providing resources to help voters make informed decisions in elections involving long-term entrenched incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives. ... We welcome the support of anyone who shares our goals regardless of political persuasion, whether they are from the grassroots or from the leadership of the Democratic or Republican parties.”
Cantor’s donation to the CPA came during the same weekend that Manzullo was ripping into the Majority Leader, telling national and local media that Cantor’s decision to endorse Kinzinger had created a massive rift within the Conference and calling on him to step down as Majority Leader. Kinzinger’s decision to challenge Manzullo in the newly drawn 16th district came after state Democrats drew him into a heavily Democratic district. Kinzinger moved into the 16th, which includes parts of both his and Manzullo’s former districts.
Although Cantor’s endorsement of Kinzinger does not appear to have had the dire consequences Manzullo and others had predicted, the Republican leader is nevertheless sensitive to his Members’ concerns, sources close to Cantor said.
Cantor “is reaching out to Members. ... It’s safe to say he’s had conversations with Members since he endorsed Kinzinger,” one Republican source said.
Schock acknowledged the donations will likely “raise some people’s eyebrows ... [but because] you can actually earmark the money, that will hopefully satisfy some people’s concerns.”
He also defended his and Cantor’s decision to throw their financial weight behind Kinzinger, despite the difficult nature of a Member-vs.-Member primary.
“Leadership isn’t about doing what’s easy. ... At the end of the day, when you want somebody to have your back, when you’re going to want their support, is when you’re in a gun fight, so to speak,” Schock said. “I like to get involved when I can make a difference.”
Still, that may be cold comfort to more than a dozen Republicans facing challenges from the CPA.
In addition to Manzullo, the organization has opposed several Members who have already had primaries, including Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). Although Bachus and Jackson survived their primary fights, Schmidt did not.
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.