Optics in Washington is a good half of the game as an elected official, at least with most of America.
While horse-trading inside the Beltway may indeed get you plenty of political baubles, between every two to six years you’ll inevitably have to ask your constituency to cosign your return ticket — and that quiet deal you made with your colleague across the aisle for some modest earmark in agriculture spending that took months probably isn’t going to mean much if secret video emerges of you gulping down tropical drinks in St. Kitts and Nevis with Washington’s largest lobbying firm.
No, first-term Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin hasn’t been wasting away down in Margaritaville with some K Street types, although the occasion is a bit more serious.
As a potential hearing on the accusations made by Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh looms, a fundraiser for Baldwin hosted by none other than the lawyers for Ford has been canceled.
“CBS News has obtained an invitation to a fundraiser for incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin in Washington, D.C. on Monday, October 1, hosted by Brett Kavanaugh accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, along with liberal political action committee ‘End Citizens United,”‘ the network reported.
“Ford’s lawyers’ remarks and statements on her behalf have largely been in line with those of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.
“According to the Baldwin campaign, the event was scheduled before Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh were made public. Her lawyers, the campaign says, are no longer involved in the event. As of Thursday morning, the two were still listed as the hosts.”
Baldwin’s re-election campaign, however, announced that neither Katz nor Banks would be hosting the fundraiser given — well, the optics of the whole thing.
In a statement to Fox News, Baldwin said that neither lawyer would be “involved in the event.”
The fundraiser had been scheduled for Oct. 1 in the D.C. neighborhood of DuPont Circle, with potential attendees being asked to pay between $100 and $1,000 for levels ranging from “supporter” to “host.”
“Please Join Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and End Citizens United for Cocktails and Conversation with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to support her re-election campaign,” the invitation read.
Baldwin doesn’t sit on the Judiciary Committee, so it’s unlikely that she’ll be involved with the hearing if indeed Ford and Kavanaugh testify about the matter. (Given the rather Kafkaesque demands of Ford’s attorneys when it comes to the nature of the proceedings, I’d question the odds on that ever happening, anyway, but I digress.)
However, Baldwin has been clear on the fact that she wants an FBI investigation into Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her sometime in the early 1980s.
Before the Judiciary Committee takes any further steps on a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the FBI must reopen its background investigation of the nominee to include this serious sexual assault allegation and ensure the Senate has all the facts.
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) September 19, 2018
It didn’t take long for Baldwin’s opponent, Republican Leah Vukmir, to criticize the planned fundraiser.
“In the most despicable manner, Senator Baldwin, who opposed Judge Kavanaugh within 48 hours of his nomination and refused to meet with him, will be holding a political fundraiser with the lawyers of Dr. Ford who is now accusing him of sexual assault,” Vukmir said in a statement to Fox News before the lawyers pulled out.
“Baldwin and her Democrat colleagues will take advantage and fundraise off any situation — even the most egregious.”
The Baldwin campaign said another fundraiser will be held Oct. 1 without Katz and James, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
As for the lawyers, it’s not a terribly good look that they seem to be politically connected Democrat apparatchiks — at least, not among those who remain undecided. I’m sure for those who have pink knit hats somewhere in their possession, this is perfectly fine.
In the meantime, Baldwin has an 11-point lead over Vukmar, according to a RealClearPolitics polling composite. It doesn’t appear terribly likely that this is going to cost her a desk in the upper chamber on Capitol Hill. However, Baldwin was also once considered The Next Big Thing among Democrats, a thing-ness that has dimmed significantly considering her inability to distinguish herself in a field of candidates who have already built up impressive resumes or are especially good at waving the bloody shirt of 2016.
If there was one way to get that mojo back, it certainly wasn’t with a fundraiser with the lawyers representing the woman trying to derail Brett Kavanaugh. The optics of it look every bit as foul as you might expect.
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