Eric Hovde, under fire from his GOP Senate rivals for giving $500 to Dem Gov. Jim Doyle, also donated to then-Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman in 1991, according to a WisPolitics.com review of campaign finance data.
Meanwhile, rival Tommy Thompson, one of Hovde’s fiercest critics for the Doyle donation, made donations in 2008 to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Dem North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue.
Hovde said on Sunday's "UpFront with Mike Gousha" that he didn't recall the contribution to Doyle and said he was simply speculating in a previous interview in which he said he was strong-armed into making the donation. He also said the vast majority of his contributions were to GOP causes, but critics were focusing only on the one contribution to Doyle.
Thompson has used the Doyle donation to question Hovde’s conservative credentials.
WisPolitics.com checked the databases maintained by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and OpenSecrets.org, the Federal Election Commission website, and IRS records to trace the donation history of all four GOP Senate candidates.
The search didn't turn up any contributions to Dems from either former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann or Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.
All but $2,000 Hovde’s donations found through the search went to GOP causes.
The $2,000 included the Lieberman donation, the $500 contribution to Doyle and a $1,000 to John Marshall Coleman, a Virginia Republican who was ran as an independent for that state's U.S. Senate seat in 1994.
Sean Lansing, a spokesman for the Hovde campaign, acknowledged the Lieberman donation.
"Yes -- he did contribute to Joe Lieberman," Lansing wrote in an e-mail. "The same Joe Lieberman who is an Independent and who supported John McCain in the 2008 presidential election."
Lieberman won re-election to the Senate as an independent in 2006 after losing the Dem primary, though he continues to caucus with Dems.
Thompson, who went after Hovde again on Monday for the Doyle donation during a debate featuring the four Republican candidates, donated $250 to Levin and $150 to Perdue in 2008. Both donations have been characterized by the campaign as "courtesy contributions" for people he worked with while Health and Human Services secretary or governor.
The heated Aug. 14 GOP U.S. Senate primary is two weeks from today.
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