Edwards Protests Wynn Fundraiser
For the kind of campaign she is trying to run, Congressional candidate Donna F. Edwards could hardly have scripted this morning's event better.
Five weeks before she takes on eight-term U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) in the Democratic primary for Maryland's 4th Congressional district seat, Wynn held a breakfast fundraiser Tuesday morning at the glassy Capitol Hill offices of Entergy, an energy company that is the nation's second largest nuclear energy generator.
According to campaign finance reports, Entergy's political action committees have given Wynn $18,000 since 2001. An invitation for the breakfast suggested donations of $1,000 for political action committees and $250 or $500 for individuals.
Edwards, a Prince George's attorney who got within 3 percentage points of the incumbent in 2006 in part by arguing he is beholden to corporate donors, showed up on the sidewalk outside with a knot of about 20 supporters, who held signs with slogans like "Dirty $$=Dirty Congress" and "Lobbyists vs. Constituents."
"When you're owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporate interests that fund your campaign, it's no surprise about the kind of policy we get," she told the group.
Wynn strode with a few aides through the small group, making no comments. Afterward, his campaign released a statement highlighting investments in Halliburton made by Edwards' employer, the Arca Foundation.
The nonprofit, from which she has taken a leave of absence as executive director, uses its investment returns to fund various progressive causes. The company has invested about $1 million in Exxon Mobil and Halliburton.
"Ms. Edwards actions today are merely a desperate attempt to mislead the voters, create a smokescreen and redirect scrutiny away from her own questionable fundraising activities and investments and ties to Halliburton" said Lori Sherwood, Wynn's campaign manager.
Sherwood also noted Edwards has received money from a hedge fund founder whose company has also invested in Halliburton.
In a recent interview, Arca board member Margery Tabankin said that, as an employee, Edwards has no control over the foundation's investments. "If Donna were the investment counselor to Arca...I'd say maybe he has something," she said. "But it's a big stretch and tries to make linkages that don't exist."
Sherwood, however, said Edwards is "hypocritical" to criticize Wynn for corporate money while not speaking out against Arca investments that help the foundation pay her salary.
At Tuesday's event, Wynn left his car parked directly in front of the building, allowing Edwards' supporters to take plenty of pictures of themselves in front of his Congressional license plate--for posting, no doubt, to various blogs that have adopted her campaign as a national cause.
"Voters haven't had a choice. That's why somebody can get money from the nuclear industry five weeks before an election and think it's okay. It's up to the voters to decide if this is okay," said Matt Stoller, who edits openleft.com and attended the event.
Will voters in the district decide energy industry fundraising is a no-no? Will they instead conclude Wynn's campaign donations are canceled out by investment decisions made by Edwards' employer and contributors, as Wynn clearly hopes?
Five weeks to go and this race is on.
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