Out Here: 'Scandal-tainted cash'?

The other day, we received a news release from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee titled, "Former Congressman Schilling Sitting on Thousands in Campaign Cash Raised with Indicted Congressman."

Sounds bad, doesn't it?

The release says Bobby Schilling, who is running against Democratic incumbent Cheri Bustos in the 17th Congressional District, has $10,301 that was raised with Rep. Michael Grimm, who was arrested recently on 20 federal criminal charges.

"For Schilling to continue to stand by Michael Grimm while spending this scandal-tainted cash on his own re-election efforts is an endorsement of the most corrupt member of Congress in the country," the release reads.

"Schilling is sending an ugly message to the voters, that his allegiance is with indicted Congressman Michael Grimm and not the people of Illinois," Josh Schwerin of the Democratic committee said in the release.

The Democrats also sent out a nearly identical release linking New York congressional candidate Matt Doheny to Grimm.

Why is this $10,031 a big deal? Schilling may have raised money with Grimm, but how many other candidates were also at the event in question? In an interview, Schilling said he suspects a number of hopefuls may have attended. I left a message with the committee, but it wasn't returned.

Nothing in Schilling's latest campaign finance report indicates he accepted any money from Grimm. Even if he had, should he relinquish the money? Grimm is charged, but not yet convicted.

Both parties are eager to associate their rivals with any hint of corruption. And what better way than the old standby of supposedly "scandal-tainted" cash?

In 2010, in response to GOP pressure, then-17th District Rep. Phil Hare gave the last $7,000 he got from embattled Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., to charity.

Facing a tough battle for re-election, Hare wanted to avoid any possible link – no matter how remote – to Rangel, who was facing ethics charges. Later that year, Hare was defeated by none other than Bobby Schilling.

Whenever a scandal hits, enterprising partisans – whether Democrat or Republican – look for any way to spread the damage, with the hope some of the mud sticks.

The one difference this time is that the mud is being thrown earlier than usual. The election is 6 months away.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley.com or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.