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Mainstream GOP to Inslee: That money’s tainted

Washington Republicans are trying to wring every last drop out of any connection Washington may have to Anthony Weiner's bad behavior, however tenuous it may be.

Last week the state GOP criticized Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., for accepting a $1,000 contribution from Weiner, saying the current congressman and likely gubernatorial candidate should "send back the tainted money."

The fact that the contribution was made in 2000 wasn't mentioned in the press release, although it could be discerned from following the helpful link to Weiner's contribution history with the Federal Elections Commission

Rather than give the money back to Weiner, Inslee's campaign announced it was donating it to Planned Parenthood.

Not good enough, the Mainstream Republicans complained today. Two members of the moderate wing, who identify themselves as pro-choice, accused Inslee of trying to "clean up his mess" by giving the "tainted money" to Planned Parenthood. He shoulda gived it to a food bank or the Red Cross, they said...

"When politicians like Jay Inslee use abortion as a political weapon it threatens women's rights," Samantha Cotton, a boardmember of the group and chair of Republican Women for Choice, said.

Planned Parenthood, however, doesn't quite see it that way. Dana Laurent, the political director of Planned Parenthood Votes/Washington, said claiming that an 11-year-old contribution is somehow tainted was "an over-reach."

"Congressman Inslee has always stood up for women's health and stood with Planned Parenthood," Laurent said.

To review: In 2000, when he was running for his second term as Washington's 1st Congressional District, Inslee's campaign received $1,000 from the campaign commitee of a then little-known congressman from New York (as well as more than a dozen other members of Congress. He'd probably get the most flak from local Democrats for taking money from Joe Lieberman.)  Inslee raised more than $1.3 million that year, and spent nearly $1.9 million that year as he beat former state Sen. Dan McDonald 55 percent to 43 percent. So arguable that contribution was used up in 2000.

But campaigns carry money over from one election cycle to another, so it's possible that the spirit of that $1,000 somehow haunted the Inslee campaign coffers. In theory the only way to truly rid oneself of tainted money is to return it to the source of the taint, which would be Weiner's campaign committee. But Weiner isn't likely to be campaigning for anything, any time soon, so Inslee could be duly criticized for sending money to someone who likes to send strange women pictures of himself in his Fruit of the Loom skivvies.

Had he sent the tainted money to a food bank or the Red Cross, he might be criticized for jeopardizing efforts to alleviate hunger or provide comfort to victims of disasters. As it is, sending $1,000 of money that has some tenuous connection to Weiner probably poses less threat to abortion rights than some things other members of the Republican Party support, like passing personhood laws to make the procedure illegal or jail doctors who perform them.

But there's another explanation for the Mainstreamers' denunciation. It's possible they would have criticized any action, just to have a chance at using the last sniggering headline of the rapidly evaporating scandal:

"Inslee has Inflamed his Weiner Problem"

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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