Despite publicly disavowing candidate Todd Akin after his "legitimate rape" remark, the National Republican Senatorial Committee quietly sent $760,000 to Missouri in a last-ditch attempt to aid Akin's unsuccessful bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The long-suspected money shuffling, never previously confirmed, is detailed in a campaign finance report filed this week by the Missouri Republican State Committee. A spokesman for Senate Democrats said Friday that the funding was "underhanded and dishonest."
The Republican senatorial committee had said it would no longer support Akin after the suburban St. Louis congressman remarked in August that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in what he called "legitimate rape." Akin apologized but refused calls from leading Republicans to drop out of the race.
That left the Republican senatorial committee with an awkward decision: Reverse course and support Akin, regardless of how it might affect the party's image, or stand pat and further jeopardize Akin's chances and the GOP's goal of taking control of the Senate. It split the difference -- publicly standing by its disavowal while privately funneling money to his campaign.
A federal campaign finance report shows that the Missouri Republican State Committee received $760,000 from the National Republican Senatorial Committee in two payments made Nov. 1 and 2. About the same time, the state Republican committee made two payments totaling $756,000 for TV ads supporting Akin, according to the finance report.
Neither the NRSC nor the state GOP committee would confirm the source of the money when the ads were bought.
Akin's former campaign spokesman, Ryan Hite, said Friday that he always had assumed the money came from the NRSC.
"No one actually ever officially told us," Hite said. "...It was very quiet."
McCaskill campaign manager Adrianne Marsh said it was "insulting to Missourians that the NRSC thought they could get away" with quietly directing money to Akin.
"I don't know what's worse, the hypocrisy or the evasion," Marsh said.
One organization that did publicly back Akin was the Kansas City-based Now or Never Political Action Committee, which launched a $1 million ad buy in the closing days of the campaign. At the time, the source of that money was unclear.
A finance report filed this week by the organization shows it received $800,000 from wealthy Missouri businessman Rex Sinquefield on Nov. 1.
McCaskill's campaign on Friday provided a summary showing she spent nearly $19.3 million on her re-election and has a debt of $238,000. Marsh said the campaign has outstanding invoices for ad production.