U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann's campaign launched a volley against Republican opponent Weston Wamp on Thursday over pro-Wamp advertising that began airing Thursday, paid for by a Virginia-based political fundraising group.
Wamp has vehemently opposed campaign influence by out-of-state political action committees and has criticized Fleischmann in this cycle and in 2012 for accepting PAC donations. In fact, at a Hamilton County Pachyderm Club meeting in June, Wamp said he returns campaign contribution checks from PACs when they come.
But last week, Chattanoogan Allan Davis, a partner at Lamp Post Group - a company Wamp helped found - made a $300,000 personal donation to the Character Counts PAC to make independent expenditures to help Wamp get elected.
That amount is nearly half the $640,000 of what Fleischmann's campaign reported raising in its first quarterly report.
Jordan Powell, senior adviser for Fleischmann, said Thursday the Davis contribution showed Wamp was a hypocrite.
"Weston has said time and again he grew up 'at the feet' of Congress and today makes it apparent what he learned growing up there: Washington double talk and hypocrisy," Powell said in a statement.
"If Weston believes super PACs are a 'disaster for democracy' and should be eliminated, he should denounce these ads, call for them to be removed from the airwaves, and have his campaign donate an equal amount of money to a good government fund," Powell said.
But Federal Trade Commission records do not indicate any payment has yet been made by Davis, or to the Character Counts PAC this year.
In response, Wamp said in a statement that he still denounces super PACs, and he has nothing to do with the Davis donation -- despite Davis being a business partner.
According to law, super PACs can spend unlimited funds to influence elections, so long as they do not coordinate with candidates' campaigns.
"That is the case here. Ironically, this attack on me comes from an angry, negative incumbent who proudly gets more than half of his money from special interest PACs all over the country and who used a Super PAC in 2012," Wamp said.
"That's the definition of hypocrisy and is intellectually dishonest."
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6481.