What's the last thing Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. needed right about now?
How about the report that some of his family members contributed more than $20,000 in campaign donations for Sen. Harry Reid's re-election effort last year? The Senate majority leader and Democrat who rivals President Obama and Rep. Nancy Pelosi in drawing Republican ire.
Many Republicans already questioned Huntsman's conservative bona fides because he accepted President Obama's request to serve in his administration as U.S. ambassador to China.
His family's donations to Reid is bound to magnify those suspicions. An excerpt from a story by Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said this week he prefers Jon Huntsman to Mitt Romney in the GOP Mormon presidential primary, has taken a lot of money from the Huntsman family, and the former Utah governor appointed Reid's son, Josh, to Utah's Board of Regents...
Indeed, the Huntsmans have long been Reid supporters, although the former governor, who is scheduled to be be in Nevada on Friday, has never given directly to Reid's Senate campaigns.
But his parents and a couple of his brothers (Peter, James) and some in-laws have. And his Dad even helped the Nevada Democratic Party ($5,000) in 2008. I'm told Reid has known the senior Huntsman since the 1990s and is friendly with the son, too.
Here's a list of the donations from the GOP candidate's family to Reid (with help from CQ MoneyLine):
Jon Huntsman, Sr., Karen Huntsman $9,600 (2/4/09)
Peter, Brynn Huntsman $9,600 (12/31/09)
James, Marianne Huntsman $4,600 (11/30/09)
Jon Huntsman, Sr. $2,000 (11/2/04)
Huntsman, who announced Tuesday that he was running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, was apparently quick to distance himself from his family's donations to Reid.
I've never donated a dime to @HarryReid and wouldn't. My record in Utah balancing budgets very different from his.
Separately, the conservative Club for Growth which favors lower tax rates and government spending issued a report that found Huntsman lacking on fiscal policies because of spending he supported as Utah governor.
We believe that pro-growth conservatives looking for a kindred spirit in Governor Huntsman will probably find common ground on trade and taxes, but they will most likely be disappointed overall if he is elected President.
And he's only officially been in the race for a day.