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July 7, 2011 at 6:34 PM

DSCC blames 'staff error' for Murray fund-raising appeal to Koch exec

Posted by Jim Brunner

Update: Friday 12:32 p.m.: DSCC sent a response to the Koch executive, blaming the appeal for money on a "staff error" and rescinding it -- while getting in several digs at the Kochs and their involvement in "right-wing smear campaigns." (See bottom of post for full text.)

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, in her role as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, tried to tap an odd donor recently while dialing for campaign dollars to retain the Democrats' Senate majority.

Koch Industries, and its owners, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, have been favorite targets for Democrats' scorn for their massive financial support of conservative political causes. The brothers are the favorite moneyed villain of the left, much as George Soros is for the right.

Yet Murray apparently made a recent fundraising pitch to a Koch executive, seeking a five-figure contribution, Koch Industries said today in an open letter posted on its web site.

The letter, from Koch executive Philip Ellender, expresses surprise at the appeal coming after months of Democratic "disparagements and ad hominem attacks" on Koch.

"So you can imagine my chagrin when I got a letter from you on June 17 asking us to make five-figure contributions to the DSCC. You followed that up with a voicemail indicating that, if we contributed heavily enough, we would garner an invitation to join you and other Democratic leaders at a retreat in Kiawah Island this September."

"I'm hoping you can help me understand the intent of your request because it's hard not to conclude that DSCC politics have become so cynical that you actually expect people whom you routinely denounce to give DSCC money," Ellender wrote.

The company also posted Murray's voice message.

A call to a Murray spokesperson was not immediately returned Thursday. (It does appear that Ellender has given money to Democrats in the past, despite Koch's Republican leanings.)

But I guess it's safe to say this is one contribution Murray's DSCC won't be counting on.

Update: The DSCC's executive director released a response to Ellender Friday, saying staff error was to blame for Murray's fundraising phone call and letter. The letter drips with sarcasm over Ellender's "genuine, heartfelt concern" regarding Murray's fundraising appeal and bashes the Kochs for their anonymous contributions to "right-wing smear campaigns across the country."

The full letter is on the jump:

Dear Phil:

Thank you for your genuine, heartfelt concern about our recent solicitation and your request for clarification. Indeed, the form letter and follow-up solicitation you received was a staff error.

However, the bigger and more troubling mistake is the long political history of your employer, the Koch Brothers. As a (former?) Democrat, perhaps your time would be better spent looking into their efforts to privatize Social Security or their opposition to expanding the children's health insurance program. Or maybe, you can post a list of all of the anonymous contributions they have made to right-wing smear campaigns across the country. If you'd like to share voicemails from all the shady groups asking you for millions of dollars, we'd happily listen to those as well.

So, I write to make it clear that your invitation was an error and has been rescinded.


Guy Cecil

Executive Director

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

P.S.: I was impressed how quickly you responded, given how often you must be on the phone with Governor Walker of Wisconsin.

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