Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) has received thousands of dollars from the labor union representing IRS agents, leading to strong criticism from Republicans.
Peters has collected $8,500 from the National Treasury Employees Union over his career, according the National Republican Senate Committee. The union has spent more than $100,000 so far in the 2014 cycle, including a $2,500 donation to Peters Senate campaign.
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The NRSC demanded that Democrats benefitting from the largesse of the union return the money, since IRS employees are "stonewalling" a congressional investigation into the agency’s admitted targeting of conservative non-profit organizations. The scandal has exploded after the IRS claimed that it had lost two years of emails sent from disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner.
"Gary Peters hasn't said a word about the missing emails and is sitting back rather than demanding answers," NRSC spokeswoman Brook Hougesen said in a statement. "This is just another instance of Gary Peters putting his own political career above the well-being of Michiganders."
The Peters campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Peters, a third term congressman, plays a unique role in the IRS scandal. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly asked for IRS emails to 13 Democratic lawmakers, including Peters, without a response. Congress is exempt from Freedom of Information laws.
Hougesen called on Peters to speak out about the administration’s lack of cooperation with the congressional investigation. The congressman’s silence on the issue, she said, demonstrates that he places higher value on campaign money than transparency.
"Rep. Peters not only refuses to say whether he will return the contributions from the IRS Union, but he refuses to demand additional information from President Obama and the IRS about this deeply concerning scandal," she said in the statement.
This is not the first time that Peters has been criticized for appeasing campaign donors at the expense of his constituency. He has embraced a hardline environmentalist agenda, including support for coal restrictions and opposition to hydraulic fracturing, while receiving substantial support from green groups. Peters helped Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) raise $400,000 from radical environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer in February. Reid’s Super PAC has spent more than $2 million attacking Peters’ opponent, Republican Terri Lynn Land.
The NTEU has a long history of giving almost exclusively to Democrats. The union doled out nearly $600,000 to legislative candidates in the 2012 campaign with more than $550,000 going to Democrats. Peters’ congressional campaign received $2,500 from the union during the 2012 campaign.