Clingan Accuses LeMunyon of Serving Tea Party Interest Over His Constituents
LeMunyon said he has not received any money from an official tea party organization.
Del. Jim LeMunyon received a $50,000 loan from Middle Resolution PAC on Aug. 8, and Eric Clingan said constituents of the 67th District should be wary.
Clingan (D), who is challenging LeMunyon (R) for the delegate seat, said acceptance of the loan shows how out of touch LeMunyon is with Northern Virginians and the "moderate 67th District." Instead, Clingan said, his opponent is serving the needs of tea party members in Richmond.
"If you're going to represent tea party interests, and there may be tea party members in our district, it strikes me as odd that the delegate is taking roughly 50-something percent of his campaign donations from Richmond residents instead of campaign donations and support from district residents," Clingan said.
Middle Resolution's contributors largely live in areas around Richmond. One contributor to Middle Resolution is from Fairfax. It is unclear whether he lives in the 67th District. As of the latest campaign finance reports, LeMunyon has raised $156,365 in 2011; Clingan has raised $47,119.
LeMunyon's office refuted the assertion he is affiliated with the tea party because of this loan.
"There is no organization in Virginia called the Tea Party Political Action Committee, and it is a false statement to suggest that the Middle Resolution is the Tea Party PAC," his staff wrote in an email.
LeMunyon has received campaign contributions from neither the Hampton Roads Tea Party nor the Virginia Tea Party Alliance, the two PACs registered with a reference to the tea party. Clingan has not yet received money from any PACs.
"No person, directly or indirectly through a political committee, has donated more than 11% of the total contributions received by Delegate LeMunyon," LeMunyon's staff wrote.
Middle Resolution defines itself as having a mission to be "committed to restoring our individual rights." The PAC supported two pieces of legislation in 2011: the Repeal Amendment, which LeMunyon introduced in the House, and the Secret Ballot, which LeMunyon voted in favor of. Both bills passed the House, but died before reaching the Senate floor.
The Repeal Amendment calls for a constitutional amendment that would allow states to repeal any federal law or regulation. The Secret Ballot legislation advocates allowing workers in a labor organization to vote by secret ballot.
Clingan said not only did Middle Resolution "buy" the Repeal Amendment legislation through their 2009 contributions, but the legislation itself "opens the door to attack every piece of federal legislation ever written. As a constitutional lawyer, it is a rather far-reaching, reckless approach to government."
When LeMunyon announced he had introduced the Repeal Amendment in December, he released the following statement to explain his support: "The Repeal Amendment aims to re-balance the relationship between the federal and state governments as our nation's Founders intended. By providing states recourse to counter federal overreach and policy micromanagement, the amendment would also have the practical effect of creating a better partnership between states and the federal government to ensure that programs meet the needs of citizens, do not waste tax dollars, and when necessary, are fixed or eliminated."
LeMunyon is the only candidate to receive a contribution from Middle Resolution PAC this year. He also received a total of $117,952 from Middle Resolution in the last month of the 2009 election, in which LeMunyon defeated Democrat incumbent Chuck Caputo by 1,114 votes.
The Middle Resolution website quotes LeMunyon crediting the donation for his victory: "Our 2009 Virginia House race had no funding for television until Middle Resolution decided to become a partner in the campaign, and pay for substantially all of our TV advertising in October. We won by about 1100 votes out of more than 20,000. Did the television advertising help swing 1100 votes our way? Absolutely."
The email from LeMunyon's staff also emphasized his motivation for introducing the bill did not stem from the donation from Middle Resolution. He said Speaker Bill Howell asked him to introduce the bill, and pointed to widespread support among Republicans in the House, along with a few Democrats who voted in favor of it. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) also endorsed the bill.