A co-founder of the Campaign for Primary Accountability today disputed the notion that the $25,000 House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s PAC gave to the group was earmarked to help Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) defeat Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.).
Leo Linbeck said money the super PAC collects to target “entrenched incumbents” such as Manzullo goes into a general fund that is used for the entirety of their operations. The PAC had already identified the 10-term Manzullo as a target before the Virginia Republican’s ERICPAC cut a check five days before the March 20 primary, which Manzullo lost.
“There’s no earmarking of those dollars,” Linbeck said in an interview on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront that is set to air tonight. “We told everyone the races we were engaging in. They looked at that and said, ‘Hey, that’s a race we’d like to engage in.’”
Linbeck was responding to a question about a Roll Call story in which Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said he asked the PAC if he could specifically designate funds for the Kinzinger-Manzullo race.
“They were basically running the television ads for [Kinzinger, and] I asked if I could specify a donation to them” to be used only in the Illinois primary, Schock told Roll Call. “And they said I could.”
Schock, who donated $25,000 to the CPA, said he used that information to convince Cantor to contribute as well.
But Linbeck said he did not know of any conversations about specifying funds for any one race.
“It’s news to me,” he told John Avlon, who was sitting in for Burnett. “I don’t know what their expectations were. For us, it came in, it went into our super PAC, and we spent it on the activity that was under way.”
When Roll Call approached the CPA for comment Thursday, the PAC did not comment directly on the donations from the two lawmakers.
“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,” the group said in a statement provided to Roll Call. “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.”
But Linbeck went further on CNN, lauding Cantor for supporting the group’s stated goal “to bring true competition to our electoral process, to give voters real information about their choices, and to restore fair, not fixed, elections.”
“We are delighted that the House leadership of the GOP shares our vision of creating real competition for entrenched incumbents,” Linbeck said. “I mean, that’s so forward-thinking of them. This idea that committee chairs and House leadership ought to actually compete for the support of their district, we applaud their foresight.”
Correction: 6:28 p.m.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the interviewee on CNN. It was Campaign for Primary Accountability co-founder Leo Linbeck.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.