Akin ad buy raises questions about GOP involvement in the Missouri Senate race

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and the Missouri Republican Party are going up in the last week of the campaign with a nearly $700,000 ad buy but the source of the funds is unclear.

This is the first effort launched jointly by the Missouri GOP and Akin. The state party will fund $386,000 of the buy, and Akin's campaign will fund another $300,000.

Akin could give money to the state party but he only had $553,000 cash on hand at the end of September, and though he has likely raised funds since, he has recently launched multiple ad buys and campaigned across Missouri, activities that undoubtedly depleted his funds.

He has, however, raised thousands since the close of the third reporting period, bringing in at least $82,000 in checks over $1,000 but much more in small donations,  according to a campaign source.

"We've been fundraising just constantly," the source said.

The Missouri GOP had only $375,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 17, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

The only legal ways for the state party to get additional funds are to go on a fundraising blitz or accept a transfer of funds from the National Republican Senatorial Committee or the Republican National Committee, as national committees are the only entities allowed to transfer money to a state party for an ad buy like this one.

The RNC and the NRSC did not respond to requests for comment. The NRSC, however, has previously said they would not give Akin any help.

The committee disavowed its nominee and pulled their funds from the race after he refused to withdraw after his comments — that pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape" is rare because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" — caused widespread backlash from party leaders and threatened to jeopardize the seat, and consequently Republican control of the Senate.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators before Akin's comments but she jumped in the polls in the aftermath.

When Akin stubbornly stayed in the race, NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) disavowed him, going as far as to call the race "not winnable" and telling The Hill that "we're done."

But Akin has shown surprising strength in recent days, as a poll released this past weekend put him just 2 points behind McCaskill.

And, in late September, the NRSC cracked the door to giving Akin some aid.

NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer said the committee would keep close tabs on the race, and hinted it might reverse its decision to abandon its nominee.

“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill,” he said in a statement. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil said the NRSC was "purposely misleading the media and voters" until after the election by refusing to disclose what Cecil said was a donation to the Missouri GOP.

"The NRSC is refusing to say whether they provided several hundred thousand dollars to the Missouri Republican Party to support Todd Akin. It is not only wrong that the NRSC would provide funding to support a dangerous extremist like Todd Akin, it is underhanded and dishonest that they would refuse to admit it to try and spare candidates like Scott Brown and Dean Heller any grief," he said in an email.

If the NRSC is the source of the funds, it may be because it's a political imperative at this point for the party, which looking for a path to control of the Senate.

GOP Senate candidates in Arizona and North Dakota are struggling while several close races remain toss-ups.

And Indiana candidate Richard Mourdock further threatened the Republicans's prospects with his own comment on pregnancy when he said that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen."

With Akin seeming to surge just a week out, the party may see renewed hope — and necessity — in the Missouri Republican.

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