The Associated Press determined a television advertisement released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee correctly pointed out Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) "was No. 1 in Cash from Lobbyists in 2018" for a time.
"The Republican group got it right — Tester was the top recipient in Congress of money from lobbyists for a time, according to campaign contribution data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics," the AP reports.
This claim has been repeated by President Donald Trump and Tester’s opponent, Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale (R.). Last month, Rosendale tweeted Tester was receiving "the most cash" from lobbyists.
When Rosendale posted his tweet on Aug. 24, representatives of the lobbying industry had contributed $394,478 to Tester’s campaign during the 2018 election cycle, according to the center’s website, opensecrets.org.
That made him tops among members of Congress receiving lobbying industry contributions, just ahead of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who had $381,033.
The money includes donations from people who work in government relations firms or as government relation consultants, political committees acting on behalf of lobbying companies and state-level lobbyists.
Tester ranked No. 2 among members of the House and Senate receiving contributions from a second group, federally-registered lobbyists and their families. That group gave a combined $497,213 to the Democrat’s re-election campaign.
Brown surpassed Tester in recent weeks and has now taken in over $430,000 from lobbyists, compared to just over $400,000 going to Tester.
When an AP reporter challenged Tester with this information, the senator pivoted to attack his opponent. "The reason you know that fact, if in fact it is true, which I very much doubt, is that all my money’s transparent. The ads he [Rosendale] is putting up, we don’t know who’s paying for them. That’s why we need campaign finance reform, by the way, which he opposes."
Tester received the most money from lobbyists during the 2012 election cycle, taking in over $500,000.
Watch the NRSC ad "Own Words":