Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin is facing intense criticism for reportedly signing a letter praising the bank bailouts despite his constant criticism of the federal assistance program.
Bevin is taking on incumbent Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a nasty GOP primary battle.
The Bevin camp has made McConnell’s support of the $700 billion Troubled Assistance Relief Fund (TARP) in 2008 a chief reason to replace the GOP leader.
Bevin has rallied against the bailout for Wall Street banks and has told Republican voters it is evidence McConnell is not a true conservative.
But six years ago, he signed a document saying TARP and the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “positive developments” for business leaders such as himself.
An Oct. 28, 2008, report for investors of Veracity Funds obtained by POLITICO — signed personally by Bevin as president of the fund — praised the federal government’s unprecedented intervention in the U.S. financial markets at that time.
“Most of the positive developments have been government led, such as the effective nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the passage of the $700 billion TARP (don’t call it a bailout) and the Federal Reserve’s intention to invest in commercial paper,” wrote Bevin and Daniel Bandi, chief investment officer and vice president of the fund. “These moves should help to stabilize asset prices and help to ease liquidity constraints in the financial system.”
Bevin and Bandi added: “The government actions to date have been reasonably swift and substantial. The Federal Reserve seems to understand the magnitude of the problem and the underlying issues involved.”
The Bevin campaign did not respond to WFPL’s request for comment and would not provide the candidate for an interview. But during an appearance on radio show host Glenn Beck’s program Tuesday the Louisville businessman denied writing the letter and said signing it was a “formality.”
“That letter? I did not write. I did not write any of the letters that were ever published as investment commentary. 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,” Bevin said.
Campaign spokeswoman Rachel Semmel said the interview with Beck is the only comment they are providing about the matter.
Kentucky Tea Party leaders, however, tell WFPL they have their own questions for Bevin in light of the Politico report.
Bevin’s support against McConnell has come largely from Kentucky Tea Party and national conservative groups. They have endorsed Bevin and have launched a new group aimed at training volunteers ahead of the May 20 primary election.
“We spent about four month vetting Matt and we looked at every aspect that we could,” says United Kentucky Tea Party spokesman Scott Hoftstra, which represents over a dozen group across the state. “Obviously, TARP is a big thing that the Tea Party has absolutely disagreed with and continues to, so it should be interesting to see what the reaction is.”
“I’m not sure how it’s going to effect other people. We need to do some homework and I’m probably going to call Matt myself and ask some questions,” says Hofstra.
Other grassroots activists in Kentucky were taken aback by the news given their fierce opposition to TARP and taxpayer-funded bailouts, but they appear to be reserving immediate judgment.
“We weren’t very happy with the TARP program that McConnell signed up with,” says Larry Robinson, president of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party. “I don’t know all the facts around it at this point and I want to understand the circumstance. I’ll be talking to (Matt) and I’m sure a discussion will come up about it.”
Asked if this could result in state Tea Party groups pulling their endorsement, Hofstra and Robinson say each grassroots organization will have to make their own decision. But the news could put a damper on Bevin’s base.
“We’ve been saying Matt Bevin is not who he says he is all along,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told WFPL. “And there’s multiple items to prove this: his claim he went to MIT when the school had no record of him, his claim he’s a conservative businessman when he took taxpayer bailouts for his uninsured business and the fact he’s run up personal and business tax liens.”
“So many things just don’t add up about this guy. And this is just one more shinning example of him saying whatever it takes to make a sale in the moment. He really is proving to be a con man and a snake oil salesman.”
National observers are also joining the McConnell camp’s chorus by echoing criticisms that the Tea Party-backed challenger shouldn’t be trusted.
From Morning Joe: