Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) blocked the press from filming his meeting with Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday and had his office film the meeting instead, which Mike Braun’s Senate campaign said could be used for campaign ads and raises “serious ethical issues.”
Sen. Donnelly became the second Senate Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh amidst pressure from his Senate Republican challenger, Hoosier businessman Mike Braun. Although Donnelly did not signal whether he plans to vote to confirm the Supreme Court Justice nominee, he did say that he intends to “keep doing my homework and make a decision sometime after Kavanaugh’s committee confirmation hearing.”
Fox59, a local Indiana Fox News affiliate, reported that no cameras were allowed into Donnelly’s office. The Washington Times also revealed on Wednesday Sen. Donnelly’s office did not release any images or video from Donnelly’s meeting with Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Sen. Donnelly’s YouTube account, however, did post a video on Wednesday without sound, which the Braun campaign contends could be used for political ads.
Josh Kelley, Braun’s campaign spokesman, contended that the filming of the Kavanaugh meeting suggested that Donnelly will ultimately vote for Kavanaugh once his confirmation is secured. Kelley cautioned that Donnelly’s taxpayer-funded office making what could be campaign ads raises “serious ethical issues.”
Kelley charged in a statement on Wednesday:
Career politician Joe Donnelly blocked cameras from his meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, but that didn’t stop him from secretly filming the meeting so his buddy Chuck Schumer and other liberals could use the footage for political ads. This behavior reaffirms that Donnelly will vote for Kavanaugh once his confirmation is secured, and his taxpayer-funded office creating footage for campaign ads borders on serious ethical issues.
Braun credited his campaign for applying enough pressure to the Hoosier Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh. One recent poll had Braun beating Donnelly in the Indiana Senate race.
‘While I strongly support this nomination,” Braun said in July, “I have no doubt Donnelly will wait until the liberal wing of his party gives him permission to support Judge Kavanaugh.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested that vulnerable Senate Democrats should hold off on their decision whether to support Donnelly as long as possible.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in July, “All Chuck ever says in caucus [meetings], it’s pretty well known: ‘Keep your powder dry. Don’t commit. Stay as neutral as you can, as long as you can.”
Sen. Donnelly caved last week and admitted that he will support funding President Donald Trump’s border wall in a September spending bill.
“I’m fine with providing him some more. I actually voted for border wall funding three different times,” Donnelly told Politico last week. “I’m fine with that. I’m fine with $3 [billion], $3.5, $4 or $5” billion this fall.