Senate races

Small government GOP Senate candidate has ties to stimulus

Georgia Senate candidate David Perdue (R), whose campaign has focused on the need to cut federal spending, is on the board of a company that received millions of dollars from the federal stimulus program.

Perdue has been on the Alliant Energy Corporation’s board of directors since 2001. Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in 2009, the company received $3.4 million in stimulus funding.

{mosads}That includes a $3.2 million grant to one of its subsidiaries, Wisconsin Power, for smart grid investment.

Perdue has touted his business record and understanding of the international economy as a key reason to elect him, highlighting his successes heading Dollar General and Reebok. The personal wealth he’s amassed in business has helped fill his campaign coffers, letting him run early ads that have propelled him to the top in many polls.

But the details of some of his business dealings could prove problematic as he fights for one of two slots in Georgia’s crowded Senate race, and the stimulus is deeply unpopular with Republican primary voters.

Perdue has been fiercely critical of government overspending, and his call to rein in deficit spending is a cornerstone of his campaign. His website prominently features a national debt clock, and the deficit is the first issue he discusses on both his website and in most campaign speeches.

“We have a crushing $17 trillion national debt that is growing larger and larger every day,” Perdue says on his website. “And the debt keeps growing because the politicians keep spending.”

He has rarely mentioned the stimulus package itself in his campaign, though a spokesman says he opposes the spending package.

“David believes that overall, like most spending by Washington politicians, the stimulus was a waste of taxpayer money that missed its mark while piling on even more debt,” Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey told The Hill.

Perdue’s campaign says he was aware of the stimulus grant to Wisconsin Power, but wasn’t involved in seeking the funds or in the company’s day-to-day management.

“A board of directors at a company that size is not involved in granular level operational decision making,” Dickey said in an email. “Of course the board has a general awareness of the company’s activities, most of which are highlighted in annual and quarterly public reports; however, it does not direct the day-to-day operational decisions.”

Perdue’s campaign has also attacked President Obama’s approach to environmental regulation.

“While serving on the advisory board, David has seen firsthand President Obama’s shortsighted war on coal and a nonexistent domestic energy plan from Congress,” Dickey said. “He understands the high costs of the EPA’s aggressive attempt to manage an entire industry through punitive overregulation, especially the unnecessary burden placed on consumers and energy producers.”

Perdue has faced increased scrutiny of his extensive business dealings since jumping into the Senate race.

Recent reports have spotlighted the failure of Pillowtex, a North Carolina company he ran until shortly before it shuttered and laid of thousands, as well as outsourcing done under his watch at Haggar Clothing in the 1990s.

He has been paid nearly $1.3 million in directors fees over the dozen years he’s been on Alliant’s board, according to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Alliant isn’t the only company Perdue is involved with that has received stimulus money, though it’s the biggest beneficiary. He’s also on the board of directors for Graphic Packaging, Inc., which received a $500,000 stimulus grant.

Perdue is locked in a hard-fought race for retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s (R-Ga.) seat. Perdue has held a narrow lead in most polling, with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) trailing narrowly and former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) and Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) not far behind.

Perdue has faced recent criticism for derisive comments he made about Handel lacking a college degree.

The top two vote-winners in next month’s primary will advance to a runoff, then face off against Democrat Michelle Nunn (D) in the general election. Nunn has been posting huge fundraising numbers and has polled strongly against her potential GOP opponents.

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