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Republicans to Specter: We want our money back

April 30, 2009 |  9:58 am

President Obama and Vice President Biden welcome Pennyslvania Sen. Arlen Specter to the White House and to the Democratic Party

When he announced the other day that he was switching to the Democratic Party, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter offered to return campaign donations from any contributors who might take offense.

Turns out that includes a lot of his Senate Republican colleagues who lent money to the cause.

Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson was first in line -- asking Specter to return his $5,000 leadership political action committee contribution. Other Republicans requesting refunds on behalf of their PACs: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ($10,000), Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander ($5,000), Texas Sen. John Cornyn ($5,000) and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker ($5,000).

"They gave that money to elect a Republican. They did not give that money to strengthen [Democratic Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid's majority," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh told the Washington Times. "I expect a lot of people will be looking to have their money returned."

No question Republicans are peeved. One Republican official in Hamilton County, Ohio, Alex Triantafilou, was criticized for crossing the line into tastelessness when he posted an image of Specter, then bald from his chemotherapy treatments for a brain tumor, next to one of the hairless Dr. Evil from the “Austin Powers” movies. He's since replaced it with a photo of a frowning child.

Now, Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr. is demanding that Specter return all campaign contributions, no questions asked. On CNN, Gleason said Specter should "do the right thing and proactively return any and all campaign contributions he has received in recent months to run as a Republican in the upcoming election."

Oh, and Gleason thinks Specter should apologize to the state's Republicans for misleading them.

Even if he returned every penny now in his campaign coffers, this is one of those "don't cry for me, Argentina" moments for Specter.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have promised to campaign for him. Democrats have promised to back him. And, if history is any guide, Democratic donors will soon be filling his campaign funds with cold, green cash.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, after Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party to become an independent in 2001, he refunded about $21,000 to 64 Vermont residents -- and collected $58,000 in donations after the switch, mostly from out of state.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: President Obama, Sen. Arlen Specter and Vice President Joe Biden. Credit: Kevin Dietsch, United Press International

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