Bayh: 'No connection whatsoever' between donation, Ellsworth vote

Retiring Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) said this week there is "no connection whatsoever" between his $1 million donation to Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) and Ellsworth's late vote to support the Democratic healthcare reform effort.

Former Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.), a candidate for the GOP nomination to succeed Bayh, has linked the two, calling Bayh's donation "an indecent proposal" and saying Ellsworth had "one million reasons" to support the healthcare reform bill.

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But Bayh laughed off any proposed connection between the two, calling it "ridiculous," and said he neither spoke to Ellsworth about the health vote nor lobbied him in any way.

Asked how he reached the decision to support Ellsworth, Bayh called it "pretty obvious."

"I want to try to help elect my successor. He's a very good person, and I wanted to help him out," Bayh said. "There's no connection whatsoever. And he voted for the House bill, which was in some respects more aggressive than the second vote, so I wasn't surprised whatsoever."

Bayh announced in February he would not seek re-election in November — a decision that surprised many in Washington, since he had amassed a $13 million war chest for the campaign. In an interview with The Hill this month, he said he wasn't sure what to do with the money, but said he would support Democrats and would not send any funds to independents or Republicans.

Ellsworth, like Bayh a centrist, is an opponent of abortion rights and a former sheriff. He was first elected to the House in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008 with 64 percent of the vote.