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Blunt, McCaskill take different approaches when it comes to controversial campaign donations

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Senator Blunt | Flickr
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Despite Democratic pressure, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt says he has no plans to return $11,000 in campaign donations that he received years ago from former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.  

Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, now faces charges that he lied to federal investigators about money he paid to an alleged victim of sexual abuse when Hastert was a high-school wrestling coach.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., took a different approach this spring when she dealt with old donations from embattled Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who's now under federal indictment for corruption charges.

Blunt, R-Mo., was close to Hastert during Blunt’s years in the U.S. House. Most of Hastert’s contributions ($10,000) were given to Blunt in 2010, during his first successful bid for the U.S. Senate.

National Democratic groups who are targeting Blunt’s likely re-election bid in 2016, have been blasting Blunt over the Hastert donations and have called on him to get rid of the money.

But Blunt told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that he saw no reason to give back the money that he received from Hastert.

“Returning donations gives some sense that you are going to look at the behavior of everybody who gives money to a campaign,” Blunt said. “I don't know if I have time to do that and I would expect not to be returning donations to anybody."

McCaskill told reporters in a later conference call that she wasn’t commenting on Blunt’s decision.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill at a hearing at Washington University with more than a dozen experts in medicine and geriatrics 3/31/15
Credit Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio
Claire McCaskill

However, McCaskill noted that over the years she has given various donations to charity to represent money that she has received from people accused of felonies.

In April, for example, McCaskill donated $11,000 in April to two Missouri domestic and sexual- violence prevention/response centers. The money represented the donations she had received over the years from  Menendez.

In general, McCaskill added, she's dealt with such donations on "a case by case basis."

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.