For a party that keep screeching about Citizens United and the need to get money out of politics, they certainly recruit strange candidates for key races. That’s not just Hillary Clinton and the pay-to-play Clinton Foundation/State Department nexus. It also applies to an attempt to wrest back a Senate seat in Indiana, a task for which Democrats drafted its former occupant, Evan Bayh. Ever since jumping in the race, a cascade of stories have emerged about Bayh’s attempts to cash in on his position as he was leaving office — and even left-leaning publications have taken their shots at Bayh.
A new report from CNN shows that it wasn’t just in that final year, either. A source provided them with Bayh’s schedule from 2009, and they noticed a peculiar pattern for someone arguing about the need to get money out of politics:
In his office in the Senate Russell Building in 2009, Bayh repeatedly met with donors for the health insurance and pharmaceutical sectors who were trying to shape the health care bill that was steamrolling through Congress at the time, according to the schedule. He met with donors of the medical device industry just as he was championing a reduction in the tax on that sector. Those meetings at times occurred shortly after the donor held a fundraiser for the senator or contributed to Bayh’s campaign account.
Of course, donors often get special access to lawmakers. But what’s less common in this instance is that Bayh held donor meetings on the Capitol grounds with his own fundraiser in attendance in his Senate office, the schedule says. Senate rules strictly forbid any fundraising in the Capitol complex, so lawmakers tend to avoid having such meetings in their official offices.
Bayh officials denied that there was any favor trading or that any fundraising occurred in the meetings.
Er … suuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrre there wasn’t. It’s just a series of coincidences! Had these coincidences occurred with a politician whose name preceded an (R), of course, the response would be an avalanche of outrage over influence peddling and corruption. Give CNN credit, though, for following through — although Bayh has made it so obvious that ignoring his influence peddling would make an even bigger statement about their own organization than this does about Democrats.
The revelations have taken their toll. Democrats had counted on Bayh’s name recognition and general favorability to make Indiana an easy pick-up from retiring Republican incumbent Dan Coats. Instead, a new Monmouth poll shows Bayh falling back into a tie against Rep. Todd Young with just over a week to go:
Turning to the contest to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Senator Dan Coats, former senator Evan Bayh and Congressman Todd Young are tied at 45% for Bayh and 45% for Young. Libertarian Lucy Brenton garners 4% of the vote. Bayh had held a steady 6 to 7 point lead in prior Monmouth polls – 48% to 42% in mid-October and 48% to 41% in August.
“Attacks on Bayh’s out of state activities have certainly led to this shift, but renewed strength at the top of the ticket is providing a crucial assist for Young,” said Murray.
Trump leads in this poll by eleven points, all but taking Indiana off the map for Hillary Clinton. Young has trouble converting that into better support, though. Bayh gets 90% of Hillary’s voters, but so far Young has only gotten 79% of Trump voters to back him up. Pence might need to make a final pitch to Indiana voters making it clear that Bayh is part of the Washington establishment that Trump-Pence voters want to end, and getting them on board for Young.