Over his more than 20 years in Congress, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) has literally taken millions of dollars from corporate political action committees. And his campaign committees have spent more than $170,000 in possibly illegal payments to his son-in-law’s web design company.
But in an odd twist, a new campaign ad by Chabot attacks his Democratic opponent for taking a much smaller sum — $200,000 — from “Washington special interests.”
Chabot, who represents the Cincinnati-based 1st Congressional District, has served in Congress since 1995, with the exception of a two-year period in 2009 and 2010. He is facing a tough toss-up re-election race in November against Democrat Aftab Pureval, the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.
Chabot’s new 30-second television spot, released on Friday, attacks Pureval for not being the “perfect politician” he thinks he is. “Aftab doesn’t want you to know he’s received over $200,000 from Washington special interests,” a narrator intones. In small print, the ad attributes this claim to an absurdly long URL in tiny print, which links to an unsorted list of all of the contributions Pureval’s campaign reported to the FEC between January 1, 2017 and August 22, 2018.
A ThinkProgress review of Chabot’s own campaign records (according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics), however, reveals that he raised a lot more than $200,000 in political action committee funds in the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 cycles. Indeed since January 2017, Chabot has received more than $500,000 in PAC donations — $411,393 from business interests. Over his career, he has hauled in more than $5.2 million in business PAC donations. Chabot rewarded these monied interests in December, voting for the massive Trump corporate tax cuts legislation.
Chabot, who used similar smears against his 2010 opponent’s relationship wtih “Washington special interests,” may be attempting to deflect his own ethics issues. Earlier this month, Hamilton County Democratic Party Co-Chair Connie Pillich filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging Chabot used campaign funds to pay his son-in-law’s design firm more than $177,000 over six years — well above the fair market rate that is the legal maximum. A Chabot campaign aide dismissed the allegations as “a press release disguised as an FEC complaint.”