Next week, Rep. Michele Bachmann will headline two rallies in Michigan on behalf of Bobby Schostak, the state GOP finance chair now running to lead the party. She's accidentally walked into a messy grassroots-GOP contretemps. While Schostak presided over a fantastic year for the state GOP's fundraising, pulling in $28 million and helping elect two members of Congress, a governor, and a new state legislature, he's donated thousands of dollars of Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry.
Granted, the vast majority of Schostak's donations go to Republicans. In 2010 , he donated $5,755 to the Michigan GOP. He donated $500 to GOP congressional candidate Tim Walberg. But he also maxed out to Charlie Crist, when the governor of Florida was still the moderate GOP primary opponent to Marco Rubio. And before this past cycle, he liked to -- pardon the expression -- spread the wealth around, so it was good for everybody. On May 15, 2008 he donated $500 to Frank Lautenberg. On December 4, 2007, he donated $666 to Nancy Pelosi; three weeks earlier he had given the same amount to Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall. In June 2007 he gave $500 each to Senators John Kerry and Jack Reed, running fairly easy races for re-election. In 2005, he gave $250 to the man who would beat Michael Steele for a U.S. Senate seat, Ben Cardin. In the 2004 election cycle, he donated $1000 to Eric Fingerhut, the Democrat who challenged Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich, and $1000 to Joe Lieberman, then running as a Democrat for president. (He would also donate to Lieberman's 2006 independent bid.) Before this, he donated to Al Gore's presidential bid.
We know all of this because
, annoyed that incoming Gov. Rick Snyder has endorsed Schostak, are raising hell about it. (This is how I found out about it.)
"I understand the concern and I take it very seriously," Schostak said.
He said 95 percent of his donations have gone to conservative causes.
Sean House, president of the South Oakland Area Republicans and active in the tea party, said Schostak's donations to Democrats are "a concern."
"Why are you supplementing the opposition?" House asked.
The Tea Party's complaint about the Bachmann event is a common one: Activists wonder why a bona fide Tea Party star is being brought in to Tea-wash somebody they're concerned about.
UPDATE: Schostak spokesman Stu Sandler explains that the candidate's daughter works in Minnesota, knows Bachmann, and that's how Bachmann has got to know Schostak.