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Hatch’s Senate pals come to his aid with cash — lots of it
Politics » But tea party lawmakers, including Utah’s Lee, are standoffish.

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"I can’t imagine what it would be like not having Orrin Hatch in the U.S. Senate, with that conservative, aggressive, thoughtful leadership," Barrasso said at an event before the Utah Farm Federation Bureau.

At a glance

GOP establishment gives big to Hatch

Hatch has collected contributions from many prominent Republicans in Washington, D.C.

$327,500 from sitting Republican senators

$43,100 from the National Republican Senatorial Committee

$10,000 from House Speaker John Boehner

$5,000 from presidential candidate Mitt Romney

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Returning the favor • The support goes both ways. Hatch is vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and as such is a key fundraiser for the group. He also sends contributions to Republican incumbents and candidates through OrrinPAC, his leadership political action committee.

He gave Roberts and Barrasso the maximum amount of $10,000 in recent months (those states don’t have party conventions). In all, OrrinPAC has contributed more than $150,000 to Republican candidates this campaign cycle.

"I’ve spent an awful lot of money helping colleagues both in the Senate and the House," Hatch said.

The NRSC is run by Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who told reporters in January 2011 that he wanted incumbents to fend for themselves in primaries and that he had no intention of funneling money to Hatch.

That commitment didn’t last long. Six months later the NRSC ended up giving Hatch the maximum contribution of $43,100 and Cornyn has since used his Alamo PAC to send another $15,000 to the Utahn. This is not without precedent. The NRSC helped Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, in his unsuccessful bid for a third-term in 2010 and the group gave a maximum contribution to Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who lost a primary to a conservative challenger last month.

Liljenquist doesn’t see the giving between senators as an altruistic move to help the Republican Party or as a matter of friends helping respected colleagues, as Hatch describes it.

"It’s a game he plays. He donates to other people and they donate to him," he said. "We know he has been able to raise millions of dollars. The vast majority of that money has come from out-of-state groups with business before Congress. People need to look and ask if this man will truly change the debt and spending in Washington."

Hatch has spent $7.6 million on his reelection since the start of 2011 and had $1.89 million left in his account, as of the first week of June. Liljenquist, who has also spent $400,000 of his own money in the race, had $164,000 in available funds, according to the latest disclosure reports.

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Twitter: @mattcanham

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