From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan and NBC's Mark Murray
First it was meeting with unsavory world leaders, Pakistan, and Iran. Then it was immigration and health care. And now the latest spat between Clinton and Obama is over campaign finances. A Washington Post article reported today that Obama's leadership PAC Hopefund, doled out "more than $180,000 ... to local Democratic groups and candidates in the key early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina."
The Clinton campaign pounced on the article and called foul. "It is our understanding that a candidates' campaign is barred from using the candidate's leadership PAC to benefit his or her campaign, which is why we shut down HillPAC when Senator Clinton announced her run for the White House," Phil Singer a spokesman for the Clinton campaign said. Singer also singled out Obama's calls for campaign finance reform, sending reporters six questions that the Senator should answer on why his campaign is engaging in a practice "that appears to be inconsistent with prevailing election laws."
The Obama campaign fired back at Clinton quoting her from two weeks ago at the Democratic debate when she said that her fellow candidates shouldn't engage in mud slinging. "Whatever happened to the confident front-runner who said she wouldn't attack other Democrats just two weeks ago?" campaign spokesman Bill Burton asks. He went on to contrast the Obama campaign's transparency versus the Clinton campaign's -- when it comes to releasing personal tax returns, disclosing the amount bundlers have raised, and releasing congressional earmark requests. "She's not really in a position to point fingers at other," Burton concluded.
According to the campaign, Obama's PAC made $476,500 in donations to candidates and committees in 2007, of which 63% have been made outside of the early states to congressional candidates and committees to help re-elect Democrats.
Singer, however, has tried to get in the last word in this spat. "The Obama campaign's failure to deny that it committed campaign finance violations speaks volumes," he said in a statement. "Instead of launching irrelevant attacks, Senator Obama should answer a simple question: Did Obama campaign officials direct the Hopefund to make contributions to officials and entities in states holding nominating contests? If the answer is no, they should just be direct and say so."