Yesterday U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2008. Today the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Scott McInnis, was attacked for the first time.

ProgressNow, a progressive/liberal organization, today sent out an e-mail urging people to call on McInnis to atone for some sins:

The last time McInnis was in the papers this much was in November, 2004 when he was still in Congress and under investigation by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC was investigating McInnis for using his campaign committee to pay his wife a salary of more than $40,000, plus an additional $1,150 per month, plus additional funds for a car and cell phone. (Denver Post, 11/12/2004).

The big problem with that arrangement was that McInnis didn’t actually have a campaign at that point. He already had announced in the summer of 2003 that he would not seek another term, but still kept his wife on the “campaign” payroll for over a year after his decision not to run. (Washington Post, 11/10/2004)

It gets worse.

On June 2, 2004, McInnis stated that much of the $1.3 million leftover in his campaign war chest–what he wasn’t giving to his wife–would be used to “seed a new foundation” on breast cancer research, education and conservation. (Rocky Mountain News, 6/2/2004)

But on September 29, 2004, just before McInnis left office, his first reported “charity” was a $5,000 contribution to the DeLay Legal Expense Trust, the legal defense fund for ex-Majority Leader Tom DeLay. (Center for Responsive Politics) Two months after that donation, and following DeLay’s indictment, McInnis voted to weaken the ethics rules and allow his boss DeLay to remain majority leader. (RMN, 11/21/20004)

Paying for DeLay’s legal expenses out of his camapign war chest is a far cry from McInnis’ pledge to use the money for breast cancer research, education and conservation.

Click on the following link to join our call for McInnis to stick to his pledge to use the money left-over from his previous campaigns for “breast cancer research, education and conservation” instead of bankrolling his wife or Tom DeLay’s legal expenses.

The e-mail also called McInnis “McLobbyist,” which is an important reference to the fact that McInnis is a high-powered attorney with the lawfirm of Hogan and Hartson — the same firm of Tom Strickland, whose 2002 Senate race was derailed in part because the “lawyer/lobbyist” tag he was given proved to be unshakable. By calling McInnis a lobbyist, the message is that he is a Denver lawyer/lobbyist as opposed to the Western Slope good ‘ol boy that McInnis will try to portray himself as being.

It may seem early for this kind of attack, but for a major statewide office like the U.S. Senate, a campaign is now a two-year event. If you can get something to stick now, chances are you’ll get it to stay stuck. After all, Bob Beauprez was labeled “Both Ways Bob” more than a year before the 2006 election, and he never did shake the name.