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Mark Kirk, Pig at the Trough?

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Mark Kirk, Pig at the Trough?
Kirk's Rough Week | Media discovery of Mark Kirk's over-exaggerated military record lead him to go on the defensive, quoting "misquotes" and "misremembering" for the embellishments.
Mark Kirk, Pig at the Trough?

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Porky the pig has been pummeled.

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MarketWatch, the Wall Street Journal’s financial news website,

has dubbed Mark Kirk one of the political world’s “pigs at the trough”

for raking in money from the financial. Kirk’s Senate campaign has taken in $826,149 from securities and investment firms. Only the Senator from Wall Street himself, Charles Schumer of New York, did better for himself, grabbing $2.14 million.

What did the money get? Schumer, who is one of the frontrunners to replace Sen. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) as head of the banking committee, played a small role. He criticized putting a financial consumer-protection agency under the Federal Reserve. He voted for financial reform.

Kirk … voted no, arguing that the bill would make it harder for individuals and small businesses to borrow. Kirk returned $54,010 in contributions from Goldman Sachs.

Obviously, Kirk is a much cheaper vote than Schumer. Schumer wouldn’t do Wall Street’s bidding for $2 million. Kirk needed less than half that.

Kirk should take that “pigs at the trough” statement as a compliment. No candidate ever lost an election because he had too much money. Schumer is an enormously successful politician who won his last election with 70 percent of the vote, and is given a 100 percent chance of winning again this year by fivethirtyeight.com. Kirk could have worse company.

Giannoulias, who is refusing contributions from corporate PACs, is trying to make the case that Kirk is a Wall Street tool.

 “This is going to resonate with people, when you say, ‘I’m not going to listen to the big oil companies, the big bankers, the big insurers, because they didn’t fund my campaign,’” Obama 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe said in a conference call to reporters on behalf of the Giannoulias campaign last month. “Mark Kirk, obviously, can’t make that same statement.”

But Giannoulias’s stance has left him behind in fundraising. So the question is, will he have enough money to buy ads telling voters that his money is cleaner than Kirk’s money?

It’s also worth noting that Giannoulias has gotten his share of money from the financial services industry. According to OpenSecrets.org, a website maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, Giannoulias received $84,175 from commercial banks. That was more than the $55,335 that Kirk got. And real estate interests have given Giannoulias a whopping $421,840, compared to $270,469 for Kirk.

 But Giannoulias isn’t in Congress, so he hasn’t had to cast a vote that might benefit one of those industries.

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