House Republicans are seething after it was revealed that their Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA), made a $25,000 contribution to an anti-incumbent PAC that has targeted numerous GOP congressmen.
The Campaign for Primary Accountability, which goes after incumbents from both parties, has already played a major role in ousting two Republican congressmen, Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Don Manzullo (R-IL). It also unsuccessfully went after Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Jo Bonner (R-AL). Next up on its radar are Texas Reps. Joe Barton (R) and Ralph Hall (R), as well as Tim Murphy (R-PA).
Some Republican congressmen, who did not divulge their names, said that Cantor’s donation, which came via his ERIC PAC, “raises questions about the majority leader’s political judgment.” The Hill has more:
More than a half dozen Republican lawmakers, stunned by the news of Cantor’s donation, agreed to speak with The Hill on the condition of anonymity to vent their frustration without fear of retribution. The lawmakers interviewed included both younger and senior members of the GOP conference.
One veteran lawmaker, upset with the majority leader’s perceived aggression toward members of his own party, said House GOP members will now fear payback when they speak out or vote against leadership.
“It is a serious breach of trust,” the lawmaker said. “It sends a signal to the rest of us that if we don’t fall 100 percent in line…they will come after you.”
The matter may come up in the House this week as lawmakers return to Congress for the first time since Cantor’s donation became public. Though Cantor claims that his donation was only meant to support freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who ultimately prevailed in his primary race against Manzullo, the money could have been used at the PAC’s discretion. For those incumbents currently being targeted, their anger at Cantor is understandable.
Some Republicans see a more ulterior motive behind Cantor’s decision. “I think it [was] designed to show Boehner the door after this election,” said one lawmaker. However, with his donation now public, the ensuing backlash this week and beyond could outpace any positive feelings Cantor is able to engender among freshmen.