Democratic Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias accused his opponent Mark Kirk of "economic treason" Thursday, for voting against a key tax bill the day after holding a fundraiser with American citizens in China.
But his press conference quickly devolved into a circular defense of his own fundraising foray into Canada.
At issue was a conference call Kirk held with 12 U.S. citizens working in Beijing last May. Giannoulias noted that the following day, Kirk voted "against closing the tax loophole that rewards corporations for shipping American jobs overseas to countries like China."
"He raises money from corporate executives in Beijing one day, and the next day sold out American jobs to China to return a favor."
"That's not the vote of someone who is representing the interests of Illinois families ," Giannoulias said. "It is the vote of someone who is representing the economic interests of Beijing."
The Kirk campaign said that the fundraiser, which generated less than $6,000, was scheduled weeks before the vote. They contend Kirk opposed the bill because it increased spending by $102 billion and added $54 billion to the national debt.
Kirk expressed outrage at the "economic treason" charge.
"Alexi Giannoulias is now showing himself as a desperate campaign person, with an imploding effort," he said.
Citing his own military record (which Giannoulias has maintained is filled with fabrications and exaggerations), Kirk said he found himself campaigning "against a person who has never served a day in his life."
"Using the word 'treason' is really beyond the pale," he said.
Asked what he would do stop the flow of jobs overseas, Kirk said, "number one, to have a tax policy which is slightly less than all of our major competitors, so that everyone wants to base their business here."
The Kirk campaign said that while the fundraiser was planned in mid-May, the vote on the tax bill was scheduled less than 24 hours in advance. Their suggestion was that the proximity of the two events was a coincidence and nothing more.
"If he wants to say that's a coincidence, I'd say it's a very interesting coincidence," Giannoulias insisted, sticking to his allegation that the vote was a direct quid-pro-quo for the fundraiser which took place the day before.
Giannoulias conceded that he had made a fundraising trip of his own outside of the U.S., a session with trial lawyers in Vancouver.
"It's actually a thousand times different," he said. "No one's accusing us of shipping jobs overseas to Vancouver."