Right, Governor Blunt?
Gov. Matt Blunt has collected $250,000 from a group that backs embryonic stem cell research, a donation that could aggravate a split between pro-business Republicans who back such research and the party's social conservatives who condemn it.
The contribution — reported in his latest campaign finance report filed Monday — helped Blunt, a Republican, maintain a more than 2-1 edge in his bank account compared with that of his likely Democratic rival, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.
The quarter-million-dollar donation was by far Blunt's largest and represents almost a quarter of the $1.03 million that the governor raised during the last three months for next year's re-election bid. For the same period, Nixon raised $622,355.Blunt, like Nixon, has consistently supported embryonic stem cell research in the state. But such a large donation could hurt Blunt's efforts to reach out to his party's social conservatives.
Many of the social conservatives long have been publicly upset with the governor over his position regarding embryonic stem cell research. Blunt spokesman John Hancock said the donation demonstrated that "the governor's position on the issue of research is clear and unchanged, for a very long time."
But what remains unclear is whether Blunt will be able to keep most of the $250,000, which he received July 10, nine days before the state Supreme Court reinstated Missouri's campaign donation limits.
A law repealing the limits was in place from Jan. 1 to July 19. The Missouri Ethics Commission, which enforces the state's campaign laws, has yet to decide whether candidates must return over-limit donations collected during that time.
Blunt's generous donor was Supporters of Health Research and Treatments, a Kirkwood-based political action committee. It has ties to the coalition that successfully won statewide approval of Amendment 2, which protects forms of embryonic stem cell research allowed under federal law.
Donn Rubin, who chaired the Amendment 2 campaign, is deputy treasurer of the Research and Treatments PAC.
The PAC said in a statement that its donation to Blunt, who also supported Amendment 2, underscored that, "We support candidates who are strong and articulate champions of the freedom to conduct medical research in Missouri, and those who are open to learning more."
The PAC's only other major donation recorded in its latest report was $150,000 to the national Democratic Governors Association. The group previously gave $25,000 to Nixon.
Missouri Right to Life is among several anti-abortion groups that have joined some Republican officials to form a new coalition, Cures Without Cloning. That group is collecting signatures to put a proposal on next year's ballot that would bar some of the embryonic stem cell research procedures now protected by Amendment 2.
A coalition spokesman declined to comment Monday on Blunt's donation.