Rep. Charlie Melancon needs to play some serious catch-up if he wants to capture Sen. David Vitter's fundraising lead — and job. The Melancon campaign says in a press release that it raised $543,000 in the first three months of 2010 and has a kitty of $2.26 million on hand. Vitter, meanwhile, raised $1 million in the same time period. At the end of 2009, Melancon reported $2 million on hand, while Vitter had $4.5 million.
Not all was rosy for Vitter last week, however. The ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced it intended to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission after Jamal Ogbe, former finance director for a California dry cleaning company, claimed he and other employees were directly reimbursed by their employer after making personal contributions to Vitter's campaign. CREW said the complaint would be filed against the company, U.S. Dry Cleaning Corp., not against Vitter.
A Vitter spokesman says the campaign never solicited the donations. Meanwhile, Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck said in a statement that the party hoped Vitter would "return these thousands of dollars in tainted campaign contributions." — Kevin Allman