Clay, Carnahan fight over who bailed out Wall Street -- and relatives
U.S. Reps. William Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan ended this week on the campaign trail the same way they started it – sparring over old votes.
On Friday, though, the dueling Democrats also traded assertions that the rival had improperly helped direct federal money to relatives.
The two are competing in the Aug. 7 primary in the 1st District.
Clay launched the first verbal missile, with a Friday morning event at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ training hall on Hampton Avenue.
Standing behind a sign that dubbed his rival “Wall Street Russ,’’ Clay contended that Carnahan had “caved in to Wall Street’’ by voting for the bank bailout in 2008 but failed to do enough to help workers.
Clay said he had voted against the bailout because workers haven't gotten the same help and “supposedly, the market works just fine without government intervention"
"There’s no such thing as ‘too big to fail,’ “ the congressman added, referring to the reasons the Bush administration had used to persuade both parties to approve the $700 billion in financial assistance in late 2008.
Clay said he also was tired of the “five big lies’’ that he contended Carnahan continues to spread about him.
Clay said he, in turn, was now out to expose Carnahan’s “bad votes, his bad choices…and his weak leadership.”
Clay then noted that both he and Carnahan had voted for the federal stimulus aid. But the difference, said Clay, was that Carnahan's vote included “$100 million for his brother’s wind farm.”
Carnahan counterattacked about an hour later, first by emphasizing that both 2008 presidential hopefuls – Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain – had supported the bailout, known as TARP, and that it had been deemed necessary so the nation’s economy “didn’t go over a cliff.”
Carnahan said he stood by his bailout vote, while acknowledging that more needed to be done to help Americans who lost their jobs or have faced foreclosure. Carnahan said he’s done all he could under a GOP-controlled U.S. House.
As for the wind farm co-owned by his brother Tom Carnahan, Russ Carnahan emphasized that the tax breaks had been awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department to several alternative-energy projects. Congress had nothing to do with the awards, the congressman said.
Carnahan’s campaign staff then distributed copies of old news stories that highlighted Clay’s direction of more than $250,000 in campaign money to the law firm of his sister, Michelle Clay, for various expenses during his 2008 and 2010 campaigns.
Carnahan also slapped at Clay’s defense of the rent-to-own industry, which Carnahan asserted was preying on low-income people much like the payday loan industry (which both congressmen condemn).
“I think this race is about who has stood up for this region, who has shown up for this region,’’ Carnahan declared.
At Friday's events, both congressmen continued their longstanding feud over who was responsible for the new congressional redistricting map that tossed the two of them into the same district.
Clay, who contends Carnahan should have run in another district, also took note of the fact that the Carnahan and Clay families go way back. “Russ is not a bad person,’’ Clay said dryly. “My family has helped his family for decades.”