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Take the Money and Run

When Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) jumped ship on the Republican Party this week, he was quick to note that, at the request of donors, he’d return contributions to anyone who’d given to his reelection campaign under the guise that he’d be representing the GOP in 2010. Among those donors were a number of his own GOP colleagues, and at least three — Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) — have asked Specter for their cash back.

Now, The Center for Public Integrity has done some digging to discover that the same three lawmakers have all taken money from Specter as well. CPI is wondering if they’ll be giving that money back.

What do these three have in common, aside from their anger at their Pennsylvania colleague? All three received contributions from Specter’s Big Tent PAC: $5,000 for Cornyn in 2002, $10,000 for Corker in 2006, and $10,000 for Alexander in 2008. Cornyn’s National Republican Senatorial Committee, the national campaign committee that works to elect and re-elect Republicans to the Senate, also received $15,000 from the PAC in the 2006 cycle.

We called the offices of all three Senators to ask whether they would be returning Specter’s funds after asking that their own contributions be returned. A spokesman for Senator Alexander said they had no plans to return the money, “because Senator Specter has not asked for it back and Senator Alexander welcomes money from Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.” He declined to speculate on what would happen if Specter did make such a counter-request. Calls to Corker’s and Cornyn’s were not returned, but Cornyn previously called Specter’s party-switch the “height of political self-preservation.”

For CPI’s self-preservation, they shouldn’t hold their breath for those call-backs.

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