Holding on to the money

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A number of recipients of the indicted former Majority Leader's ARMPAC contributions are refusing to give back money.

Meghan wrote about Reps. Jean Schmidt and Geoff Davis. And there's Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana. And the South Carolina GOP delegation. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's decision is a matter of scrutiny. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota will keep it. And so on. (Feel free to post more articles about this in the comments.)

Most of these members of Congress received $5,000, $10,000, or maybe $25,000 or so from ARMPAC. Not huge amounts for, say, Sen. Thune, who raised $16.25 million in his 2004 race for Senate, and has already brought in $1.5 million since then. Are members willing to take the heat just out of loyalty to a member of Congress who might not be around much longer?

If it's not about the money, is it fear of DeLay? or the conservative base which has rallied around him?

My hunch is that no one wants to begin the stampede in earnest. Reps. Bradley (R-NH), Wilson (R-NM), and Hulshof (R-MO) have already moved to get rid of the tainted money. Two of these, though, are in competitive seats in 2006. Loyalists or turncoats, some GOP members are gonna have to make some tough decisions about whether standing by DeLay gets them more campaign cash and ground troops in order to overcome the negative of holding on to a few thousand dollars.

UPDATE: A reader forwarded to me a link to a letter to the editor from Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) responding to a Post-Dispatch editorial as another example...