Home

Senate Democrats Demand RNC Pay for Benghazi Probe

Clinton testified during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Benghazi attacks on Jan. 23, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats want the Republican National Committee to pick up the tab for the House investigation into the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.  

"We write today to demand that the Republican National Committee reimburse the federal taxpayer for the costs incurred by the Select Committee on Benghazi. Over the past several weeks, several House Republicans have made clear what many observers have suspected all along: that the Select Committee has conducted a political inquisition aimed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton," the four top Senate Democrats wrote.  

In the letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus circulated Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., joined by his leadership team of Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington point to the comments of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy , R-Calif., about the committee and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.  

"Due to the political nature of the committee, we believe it is inappropriate that a reported 4.7 million taxpayer dollars were used to finance its operations and that the RNC subsequently orchestrated numerous fundraising opportunities in its wake," wrote Reid, Durbin, Schumer and Murray.

The RNC was quick to counter that the Senate Democrats' demand was a political ploy.

"Harry Reid's pathetic attempt to inject politics into the final, definitive account of the 9/11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans dishonors their memory and has no basis in reality," RNC National Press Secretary Allison Moore said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. "This cheap political stunt from disgruntled members of the minority party is nothing more than an in-kind contribution to the Clinton campaign paid for with taxpayer dollars."

The missive to the RNC comes just one day ahead of Clinton's planed testimony before the House 's Select Committee on Benghazi.  

"It is clear from these candid comments and public reports that the Select Committee on Benghazi has retreated from the pursuit of the facts and instead is operating a political opposition machine against Secretary Clinton.  Therefore, the continued use of taxpayer funds is wholly inappropriate," the Democrats said later n the letter. "We firmly believe the Committee should be disbanded, and that every penny of taxpayer money that has financed this purely political committee ought to be repaid."  

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Priebus: We write today to demand that the Republican National Committee reimburse the federal taxpayer for the costs incurred by the Select Committee on Benghazi. Over the past several weeks, several House Republicans have made clear what many observers have suspected all along: that the Select Committee has conducted a political inquisition aimed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Due to the political nature of the committee, we believe it is inappropriate that a reported 4.7 million taxpayer dollars were used to finance its operations and that the RNC subsequently orchestrated numerous fundraising opportunities in its wake.  Therefore, we urge the RNC to fully reimburse the U.S. taxpayer and cease all fundraising opportunities linked to the Select Committee. On September 29th, while being interviewed by Fox’s Sean Hannity, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.” Several weeks later, on October 14th, Representative Richard Hanna said, “Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth. This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.” Additionally, several recent public reports have indicated that the Chair of the Select Committee, Trey Gowdy, and his staff, have disproportionately focused the Committee’s efforts on interviewing people directly connected to Secretary Clinton, rather than conducting a comprehensive review into the 2012 attack in Benghazi. These public reports have also called into question how the Select Committee has already spent more than the budget of the entire House Intelligence Committee, yet has yielded few new insights or meaningful information about the 2012 attack. This information further confirms that official government resources have consistently been used, and are continuing to be used, for purely political purposes. Furthermore, the NRCC has sent out fundraising solicitations citing the Select Committee’s efforts. For example, the NRCC website solicitation dated May 6th says, “House Republicans will make sure that no one will get away from Gowdy and the Select Committee.” It is clear from these candid comments and public reports that the Select Committee on Benghazi has retreated from the pursuit of the facts and instead is operating a political opposition machine against Secretary Clinton.  Therefore, the continued use of taxpayer funds is wholly inappropriate. We firmly believe the Committee should be disbanded, and that every penny of taxpayer money that has financed this purely political committee ought to be repaid.

Clinton Better Bring A-Game to Benghazi Hearing
Survey Shows Skepticism of Benghazi Committee Moves Gowdy: Republicans Not on Benghazi Panel Should 'Shut Up'
See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.