The Idaho Republican Party is saying Rep. Walt Minnick is too friendly with the progressive group MoveOn.org, but Minnick’s campaign says that’s not true and that the Democratic congressman is willing to meet with any of his constituents.
Idaho Republican Party chairman Norm Semanko said a recent meeting between one of Minnick's staff members and several north Idaho members of MoveOn shows his true political colors. “This is the real Walt Minnick, speaking to the right and voting with the left,” Semanko said in a prepared statement. “I can assure you, he is a liberal Democrat.”
Minnick’s campaign spokesman, John Foster, rejected the connection between Minnick and MoveOn. “One of the only groups to attack Walt as scurrilously and as often as MoveOn is Norm Semanko’s organization,” Foster told IdahoReporter.com. He also said that Minnick and MoveOn haven’t seen eye to eye on many issues, including Minnick’s opposition to the 2009 stimulus package.
"This clearly demonstrates that he is not the conservative that he professes to be," said Republican state Rep Raul Labrador of Eagle, Minnick's opponent in the Nov. 2 election.
A Minnick staffer, Sarah Worley met with the MoveOn members to discuss the organizations efforts for campaign finance reform. MoveOn is calling for a Constitutional Amendment overturning the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court case, which ended many limits on political speech and spending by corporations and unions. The group also backs plans that would create public financing for U.S. House elections and would put more limits on lobbyists.
According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, Worley told the group, “I can say from Walt's perspective, absolutely, he's 100 percent committed to these three planks, and I'm sure he wouldn't have any question against those at all."
Foster said Minnick hasn’t signed MoveOn’s pledge, and called Worley an overenthusiastic staffer.
Foster also questioned Semanko’s attack on Minnick for meeting with the MoveOn members, who live in Minnick’s congressional district. “(Minnick) has described his office many times as the customer service office of the U.S. government,” said Foster, who added that Minnick and his staff have met with groups spanning the political spectrum.
Semanko said the meeting highlights the differences between Minnick and Labrador. “We need to elect a Republican like Raul Labrador to this seat; someone that will never meet with groups like MoveOn.org and will never vote with the Democrats,” Semanko said.
Minnick supports reforms to decrease the amount of money involved in campaigns, according to Foster. Minnick opposed the Citizens United ruling but he voted against the DISCLOSE Act, which would require corporations to disclose the names of their top five donors in political ads. Minnick also is a co-sponsor on legislation favored by MoveOn that would create publicly financed elections in the U.S. House.
Labrador’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on his stance on the Citizens United ruling or whether he would meet with constituents from organizations like MoveOn.