Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday accused President Barack Obama's campaign of "hypocrisy" for attacking Mitt Romney for allegedly shipping jobs overseas while defending stimulus spending that did the same thing.
In December, The Kansas City Star reported that KCP&L spent $2.8 million in stimulus funds to purchase "smart meters" for the electric grid improvements in the Green Impact Zone and other parts of the city.
The meters were built in Mexico. KCP&L later said they bought the meters from a Mexican plant because they aren't made in the United States.
Priebus said the story only "scratched the surface" of problems with the administration's stimulus spending.
"The ultimate sin is taking hardworking money from folks in Missouri ... and folks in Kansas and taking that money, sending it to places like Finland, Mexico and China, and providing jobs overseas," Priebus said in an interview with The Star.
In a briefing with reporters Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said claims that the stimulus provided overseas jobs "doesn't pass the laugh test." Later, Carney added: "The point of distinction here is that those (stimulus) investments created jobs here. They didn't create jobs overseas, they created jobs here in the United States and for American workers."
But Priebus countered that "for Jay Carney to say it doesn't pass the laugh test -- he's living in an alternative universe because the facts are this stuff happened. Taxpayer money was sent overseas by Barack Obama."
The exchange comes as the battle escalated over Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, the private equity company he once ran, and his possible involvement in moving jobs overseas.
The Boston Globe, citing documents, said in a Thursday story that the former Massachusetts governor was "the man in charge" at Bain through 2002. For years Romney has said he left Bain in February 1999 to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The three-year difference is significant. Romney's campaign has long said the candidate can't be held responsible for Bain decisions made after his February 1999 departure, including decisions to close the bankrupt GST Steel plant in Kansas City and to move jobs in some Bain-related companies to other countries.
But the Obama campaign has run ads for weeks accusing Romney of disrupting the lives of workers at GST Steel and other Bain firms. If the Globe reports are accurate, they bolster the attacks against Romney -- and lessen the impact of Romney's response ads, which call Obama "dishonest" for the Bain attacks.
However, a spokesman for the Romney campaign called the Globe story inaccurate. And in a press release, Bain Capital said that although Romney's name is on company documents through 2002, he played no active role in its management after 1999.
Democrats offered no specific evidence of a direct role for Romney at Bain during the three-year period other than the documents cited in the Globe story. But they said if Romney filed "false" documents during that time frame he could face serious legal questions about his signatures on the documents.