David Frum

05.07.12

Tea Party vs. K Street? Hardly.

mourdock

A couple of weeks ago, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner challenged David Brooks, me, and other Tea Party skeptics to explain which we preferred: Tea Party ideology or K Street pay-to-play. I replied that the choice was not so clear, that the mere fact that Tea Party Republicans were extreme did not immunize them against ethics troubles.

The Huffington Post over the weekend reported another example: questions gathering around the Tea Party challenger to Sen Richard Lugar.

A retired Indiana state trooper has asked the Securities Exchange Commission to investigate whether state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a candidate for Senate, broke pay-to-play rules in offering a contract to manage police pension money while he was raising campaign cash from Wall Street.

Mourdock, a favorite of the Tea Party, is leading incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar heading into Tuesday's Republican primary, according to polls. But his campaign has struggled to raise money, and former state police 1st Sgt. Thomas Frailey told HuffPost that he had concerns about Mourdock seeking a hedge fund of funds manager for the Indiana State Police Pension Fund around the time he was holding a Manhattan fundraiser with representatives of the finance industry.

According to SEC regulations, financial advisers who get business from a pension fund are barred from contributing to the campaigns of politicians who have influence over which advisers are chosen.