A group called Stop Hillary PAC keeps trying to give Benghazi panel chair Trey Gowdy money

Trey Gowdy
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has tried very hard to portray his committee as a professional, nonpartisan inquiry into what happened at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. Nobody's making that very easy. Several Republican colleagues, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have publicly suggested or stated that the committee was set up to sink Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations, and Clinton and Democratic allies have piled on with gusto. And then there's the money trail.

Last Friday, reports Mike DeBonis in The Washington Post, Gowdy's campaign returned three $2,000 donations from political action committees whose treasurer also manages the money for Stop Hillary PAC, a Virginia outfit that ran an incendiary ad during the Democratic debate accusing Clinton of abandoning the four men killed in the Benghazi terrorist attack. The donations were made in May, and Gowdy gave the money back after The Washington Post inquired about them. The Stop Hillary PAC treasurer, Dan Backer, also served as treasurer of Gowdy's leadership PAC.

Gowdy "has made every effort possible" to keep the Benghazi committee above politics, said Benghazi committee spokesman Jamal Ware, adding: "If you hear Trey Gowdy, Benghazi, and donate in the same message, Mr. Gowdy would personally encourage you to ignore the request." Backer hasn't made that easy, DeBonis reports:

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In April, the Stop Hillary PAC used Gowdy's name and image in a fundraising solicitation calling on donors to "Support Trey Gowdy & Continue the Select Committee on Benghazi." Gowdy's personal lawyer sent a letter to the group demanding that it "immediately cease and desist from any and all use of Rep. Gowdy's name, image or likeness in any manner." Gowdy refused a donation from the Stop Hillary PAC in May, Ware said, and he refused a July donation from another PAC linked to Backer....But recent filings show that the group spent about $100,000 this month on a national ad campaign opposing Clinton — and it reported conducting $10,000 worth of automated phone calls last month in support of Gowdy. Backer said the calls were made in Gowdy’s district to counter attacks from Democrats on the Benghazi committee. [The Washington Post]

Gowdy and his Benghazi Committee interview Clinton on Thursday. If nothing else, it should make for good political theater. You can read more at The Washington Post.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.