A coalition of tea party groups in Kentucky are lashing out at Washington, D.C. publication in defense of Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin for a story reporting he signed a document praising the bank bailouts.
But not everyone is buying the Louisville businessman's explanation even as conservative activists rally around Bevin.
Politico uncovered the letter from Bevin's mutual fund company, which sings the virtues of the $700 billion Troubled Assistance Relief Fund (TARP).
For years Kentucky Tea Party groups have slammed Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell for voting in favor of the proposal six years ago. Bevin has also criticized the senator's vote on numerous occasions despite news that Veracity Fund held stock in nearly a dozen companies that received TARP funding.
Earlier this week tea party activists told WFPL they had serious questions for Bevin when the story broke given their opposition to TARP. The United Kentucky Tea Party announced Thursday they are standing by their endorsement and accepting Bevin's explanation.
"After reading the Politico article, speaking with Matt Bevin and researching the facts, we are firmly convinced that the article has absolutely no merit and that this was a deliberate and unfounded smear attack by Politico," says UKTP spokesman Scott Hofstra.
"The UKTP wouldn’t be surprised if the McConnell campaign fed this information to Politico. This has their campaign’s mudslinging signature all over it."
Bevin has said in several follow-up interviews that signing the letter was a formality, adding it didn't reflect his views at the time.
"I did not write any of the letters that were ever published as investment commentary" Bevin told radio show host Glenn Beck. "I was the president and chairman of the board and by (Security and Exchange Commission) law, was required to sign prospectuses when they were sent out."
A prominent Republican attorney, however, says Bevin's credibility is on the line and is telling Kentucky voters to pay closer attention.
From National Review:
Chuck Cooper, a prominent conservative lawyer who was an assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice under Edwin Meese during the Reagan administration, disagrees — strongly. He tells National Review Online that Bevin’s defense, in fact, should make Kentucky voters wary.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act imposes certain requirements to ensure that investors can have confidence that the highest-ranking officers in companies vouched for their reports, Cooper says. If Bevin disagreed with the content of a report or thought it was inaccurate, under the law, he had an obligation to change it before signing off.
“If he thought there were a statement in that report and he couldn’t vouch for its accuracy, he was required to change it,” Cooper says. “That was the whole point of Sarbanes-Oxley.”
The Bevin campaign has yet to respond to our request for comment in regards to Cooper's legal observation.
It is yet to be seen if the TARP revelation will have an impact on the GOP primary battle. A survey released by Wenzel Strategies shows McConnell with a huge 42-point lead over Bevin, but that was conducted before the Politico story broke.
For the McConnell campaign, they're hoping this will be the final blow for their primary opponent who has made the senator's re-election bid more difficult.
"Matt Bevin's whole campaign has been based on lies, so it's no surprise that even President Reagan's top attorneys are taking notice of the con that Matt Bevin has been trying to sell Kentucky conservatives," says McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore.