JEFFERSON CITY — Despite publicly disavowing Todd Akin, the political committee for Republican senators quietly sent $760,000 to Missouri in a last-ditch attempt to aid Akin's unsuccessful challenge of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The long-suspected money shuffling, which had never previously been confirmed, is detailed in a postelection campaign finance report filed this week by the Missouri Republican State Committee. A spokesman for Senate Democrats asserted Friday that the funding was "underhanded and dishonest."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee had said it would no longer support Akin after the suburban St. Louis congressman remarked in August that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in what he called "legitimate rape." Although Akin apologized, the NRSC repeatedly stood by that public disavowal, even as some other Republicans and conservative groups later reversed course and publicly aided Akin's campaign.
But a federal campaign finance report shows that the Missouri Republican State Committee received $760,000 from the NRSC in two payments made Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. About the same time, the state Republican committee made two payments totaling $756,000 for TV ads supporting Akin, according to the finance report.
Neither the NRSC nor the state GOP committee would confirm the source of the money at the time of the ad buys. Spokesmen for the two Republican groups did not immediately return messages Friday.
Akin's former campaign spokesman, Ryan Hite, said Friday that he always had assumed the money came from the NRSC.
"No one actually ever officially told us," Hite said. But "everything tended to be implied of where the state committee got this money. ... It was very quiet."
Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said it was wrong for his Republican counterparts to provide financial backing for Akin, whom he dubbed as "a dangerous extremist."
"It was underhanded and dishonest that they would purposely mislead the public about their actions," Canter said.
The money was too little, too late. McCaskill solidly defeated Akin with 55 percent of the vote to his 39 percent — the largest victory margin for a Missouri Senate race in 18 years.
Akin had expressed frustration during the campaign that the Republican senatorial group had not publicly supported him as part of their drive to gain the four seats necessary to take control of the Senate away from Democrats. As it turned out, Democrats ended up gaining two additional Senate seats.
"I don't know if anyone could pinpoint exactly what won or lost the election for McCaskill or for Akin, but I'm sure that having those expenditures earlier on would definitely have given us a boost — I have no doubt about that," Hite said.