Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is supporting tea party conservative Matt Bevin in the GOP Kentucky primary.
McConnell has accused the right-wing political action committee founded by South Carolina’s ex-Sen. Jim DeMint, now Heritage Foundation president, of only joining the political fray to line its own deep pockets, according to the Los Angeles Times
In a new campaign ad, the Kentucky senator lashes out at the group, claiming it "solicits money under the guise of advocating for conservative principles but then spends it on a $1.4-million luxury townhouse with a wine cellar and hot tub in Washington, D.C."
Matt Hoskins, executive director of the SCF, said that the organization simply rents a Capitol Hill townhouse instead of paying expensive downtown office space. He also declared that McConnell’s ad shows that the PAC’s campaign against him was gaining a foothold, according to The New York Times
"McConnell is clearly in trouble in this primary, or he wouldn’t be attacking Matt Bevin and declaring war on conservatives," Hoskins said. He "isn’t upset because SCF rents a townhouse for office space. He’s upset because we’re spending money on radio and TV ads that expose his record of voting for bailouts, more debt, higher taxes, and Obamacare funding."
Conservative PACs angered McConnell by supporting tea party insurgents in Nevada, Colorado, and Delaware in 2010, and in Indiana and Missouri in 2012, who won their primaries but lost in the general election by scaring off independent voters in seats that the GOP establishment felt they would have won, according to the New York Times.
Now McConnell is outraged that these conservative groups have targeted him, along with Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Pat Roberts of Kansas, even though there is a good chance that the GOP will recapture the Senate in November, making McConnell the majority leader, says the Los Angeles newspaper.
The SCF has spent $400,000 on TV and radio ads in Kentucky opposing McConnell while the Madison Project has launched a smaller campaign and FreedomWorks has opened field offices in Louisville and Lexington to attack the Republican leader, the New York Times reported.
McConnell still expects to come out on top, at least in the primary where he’s well ahead of Bevin in the latest polls, although he faces a close race
with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who recently had former President Bill Clinton campaign for her in Kentucky.
"We are going to crush them everywhere," the senator told the New York Times, referring to the tea party PACs. "I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country."
McConnell backed off his remarks somewhat on Monday afternoon in fear that he might set off an all-out feud between the GOP establishment and the right-wing conservatives.
However, while praising the tea party and "the conservative change it’s bringing to Washington," the senator had harsh words for the SCF, calling it "a rogue political operation that has co-opted the Liberty movement for its own enrichment to the detriment of the conservative cause."
Guy Benson, senior political editor of Townhall.com
, warned that McConnell might want to choose his words more carefully in the future. "Making such inflammatory comments about fellow conservatives, especially in the Times of all places, only serves to fan the flames of intra-party distrust and resentment," he wrote.
"The timing and intensity of McConnell's smack down is redolent of House Speaker John Boehner’s rant against certain conservative organizations during the Ryan/Murray budget debate."
Columnist David Horsey of the Los Angeles newspaper wrote that there will always be ideological differences between those who have power and those who want it, and "those who benefit from fanning the flames of discord wanting to make a bundle of cash for their efforts."
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