Griffith To Give Back Donations

Recently flipped Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) will refund campaign contributions to any donors who ask for their money back, a spokesman for Griffith's campaign said today, a move that could cost his campaign tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for one, is asking.

As the freshman Griffith announced today that he would switch parties to become the House's newest Republican, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) called on Griffith to return money not only to the DCCC, but to Democratic lawmakers who had donated to Griffith's campaign.

"Mr. Griffith, failing to honor our commitment to him, has a duty and responsibility to return to Democratic Members and the DCCC the financial resources that were invested in him.  His constituents will hold him accountable for failing to keep his commitments," Van Hollen said in a statement released this afternoon.

Griffith isn't required to give the money back: according to the Federal Election Commission, campaigns are not legally obligated to give back contributions when donors ask for refunds.

In total, Griffith could end up giving back just over $80,000 in donations from PACs and campaigns with Democratic ties.

Griffith received $68,300 from campaigns and PACs affiliated with Democratic lawmakers in 2009, plus $3,265 in in-kind contributions from the DCCC to put on fundraisers.

Democratic leaders gave to Griffith almost unanimously: he took in donations from PACs or campaigns of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Chief Deputy Whip Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen.

Griffith also received $6,500 this election cycle through ActBlue, the website that funnels online contributions to Democratic candidates, plus $2,000 from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's PAC.

It's unclear how many private donors will ask for their money back. "Just based on the fact that North Alabama has such an independent voting base, there's no telling," a campaign spokesman said.

As of his October quarterly filing with the FEC, Griffith's campaign had over $618,000 on hand.