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Published — March 18, 2014 Updated — May 12, 2014 at 11:04 am ET

Pro-transparency tea party activist trounced

David Hale called for NASCAR-style disclosures of congressmen’s PAC backers


Incumbent Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., easily fended off a primary challenge from David Hale, a tea party activist whose platform included a novel proposal to add more transparency to politicians’ campaign funding.

Had Hale been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, he planned to introduce legislation that would have required members of Congress to clearly display on their websites the corporate logos of the political action committees that helped bankroll their campaigns — like NASCAR drivers display sponsor logos on their cars.

“If Congress truly wants to be transparent, they will readily pass such an act and put their PAC money where their website is,” Hale wrote on his blog in January. “It’s only fair that we the people know who is donating to our congressional representatives in the House and Senate.”

During the campaign, Hale was dramatically out-raised by Kinzinger, who collected more than $1 million. More than half of this sum came from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The PACs of Home Depot, General Mills and the American Society of Anesthesiologists all contributed to Kinzinger’s campaign during the final stretch of the GOP primary, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of federal filings.

For his part, Hale raised less than $10,000, none of which came from PACs — groups that frequently favor incumbents with their political giving.

In the closing days of the race, Kinzinger was also trumpeted in radio ads by an operation called Main Street Advocacy, a “social welfare” nonprofit headed by former Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, that wants Republicans to prioritize “pragmatism instead of social dogma.”

Main Street Advocacy — which is not legally required to publicly disclose its donors — spent $20,000 on the pro-Kinzinger ads, Federal Election Commission records show.

Kinzinger will now face Democratic challenger Randall Olsen in November.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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