CHATTANOOGA — With just eight days before the start of early voting, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann on Thursday lashed out at his Republican Primary opponent for benefiting from a Political Action Committee (PAC).
Fleischmann, the two-term incumbent who is attempting to hang on to his 3rd Congressional District seat in a primary challenge from fellow Chattanooga Republican Weston Wamp, said that the use of super PAC donations to fund a new round of advertising on Wamp's behalf reveals "stunning hypocrisy" on Wamp's part.
Wamp's campaign got a boost from Chattanoogan Allan Davis. The Chattanooga Times Free Press newspaper reported last week that Davis — a partner in the Lamp Post Group that Wamp helped found and is employed by — has given $300,000 to Character Counts, a Fairfax Station, Va.-based PAC, to benefit Wamp.
The PAC is expected to use that donation for advertisements benefiting Wamp, though it remains unclear whether the ads Character Counts publishes will actually support Wamp or simply criticize Fleischmann.
In 2012, Wamp said that super PACs will "ruin our elections" and must be eliminated.
The Fleischmann camp seized on those statements from two years ago to criticize the super PAC contributions from Davis.
"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," Fleischmann advisor Jordan Powell said. "If Weston believes super PACs are a 'disaster for democracy' and should be eliminated, he should denounce these ads."
The $300,000 donated by Davis represents nearly half the $640,044 cash on hand that Fleischmann reported at the end of the first quarter of 2014, evening the playing field between the two candidates.
Earlier this week, Fleischmann received the endorsement of the National Right to Life, one of the nation's leading anti-abortion organizations. He is seeking to flip the momentum of what was widely perceived as a poor showing at last week's GOP primary debate with Wamp in Chattanooga.
In the aftermath of that debate, an editorial by the men's hometown newspaper, the Times Free Press, called on voters to choose Wamp in the August 7 primary and boot Fleischmann from Congress.