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Democrats allege Akin switched stance to get campaign money

By Steve Kraske, The Kansas City Star –

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party said he filed two ethics complaints against Republican Todd Akin on Wednesday, alleging that the U.S Senate candidate switched positions on earmarks in exchange for campaign donations.

Mike Sanders, the Democratic chairman who also serves as the Jackson County, Mo., executive, called Akin’s actions “brazen and shocking behavior that is a clear violation of federal campaign laws and House ethics rules.”

The complaints were filed with the Federal Election Commission and the House Ethics Committee.

But an aide to Akin called the accusations baseless and “designed to distract Missouri voters from (Democratic incumbent Sen.) Claire McCaskill’s liberal voting record.”

Sanders based his charges on an action that hasn’t happened yet. The well-funded political action committee that South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint formed — the Senate Conservatives Fund — said it is considering an endorsement of Akin, but has not made a final decision.

Still, Sanders accused Akin of switching his position on earmarks in order to secure campaign dollars from the fund. Akin has supported earmarks in the past, but DeMint opposes them, as does McCaskill.

“As an elected member of Congress, Akin should hold himself to a higher level of conduct,” Sanders said.

But an Akin aide said the congressman always has opposed so-called earmarks, which are appropriations slipped into spending bills with little oversight. He said Akin favors a more transparent process.

A spokesman for the Senate Conservatives Fund said Akin had agreed to a future ban on earmarks and was comfortable with the congressman’s position.

“We don’t really believe that he’s changed his position,” the spokesman said.

He would not indicate when the conservatives fund would make its decision on whether to back Akin.

Also on Wednesday, Akin continued to pick up the endorsements of prominent Republicans, including DeMint and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

“We support Todd Akin and hope freedom-loving Americans in Missouri and around the country will join us so we can save our country from fiscal collapse,” DeMint and Santorum said in a joint statement.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Republican Party and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt also announced their support of Akin. Last month, Blunt had led a parade of current and former Missouri senators who urged Akin to withdraw from the race after he made his remarks about “legitimate rape.” Akin later apologized and said he misspoke.

However, one former senator, Jack Danforth of St. Louis, said that he still opposes Akin.

“My position remains the same,” Danforth said. “Akin has tainted the Republican Party and damaged our brand as Republicans. We have to be a party that appeals to all the American people, and I think that Akin has offended so many women that he really has hurt our brand. So I think we should disassociate ourselves from him.”

Akin got better news from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which opened a door to future financial support. The committee issued a statement saying Akin is a “more preferable candidate” than McCaskill and promised to “continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”

That committee previously had withdrawn $5 million in TV advertising for Akin after his rape comments.

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