IL-14: How Bad Is it for the GOP?

March 8, 2008 11:42 a.m.

The election to fill former Speaker Denny Hastert’s vacant seat is today.

As we reported this week, the race for what has been a normally safe Republican seat is going so badly for the GOP that the National Republican Congressional Committee — which is already struggling to keep up financially with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — has been forced to spend more than $1 million to keep the seat in the R column.

The race is so tight that the NRCC yesterday emailed congressional staff on the Hill asking them to send any of their spare interns over to the RNC to do phone-banking for the GOP candidate, The Hill reports. Is that legal? Not clear, but what happened next is a no-no:

A staffer working for Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) apparently broke House rules Friday, forwarding a request that congressional staffers send interns to the Republican National Committee (RNC) to make campaign-related phone calls.

The episode started when an aide at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent an e-mail Friday to congressional staffers. The e-mail asked the GOP aides to send interns to the RNC to make phone calls for Jim Oberweis (R), who is running for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) vacated congressional seat in a special election Saturday.

“If you have interns sitting around today, please send them over to the RNC…to phone bank for Oberweis,” the e-mail states.

Matthew Lillibridge, a staff assistant in Chabot’s office, forwarded the e-mail to aides in other congressional offices, apparently violating House rules against using House resources for campaign purposes. Lillibridge used his House e-mail address, forwarding the e-mail to other addresses on the House e-mail server.

We’ll be bringing you the results on the IL-14 race tonight as they come in.

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