MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir, who has campaigned on the promise of "draining the swamp," was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for a series of fundraisers and other events.
Vukmir, a Wisconsin state senator, attended a rally for embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and was expected to attend a gala at the Trump Hotel on Wednesday night, in between three fundraisers.
Vukmir also released a new campaign ad in Wisconsin attacking Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin over her handling of the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center opioid scandal.
Down in the polls and positioning herself as the underdog, Vukmir headed to Washington, where she had at least three fundraisers planned, including one with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a host of other Republican lawmakers.
Invitations obtained by The Associated Press show that Vukmir was to attend a fundraiser Wednesday morning at the office of the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List. Those slated to attend include both the group's president and board chairman; Lisa Nelson, the chief executive officer of the pro-business advocacy organization the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that offers conservative-minded legislation to legislatures across the country; and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group.
An email obtained by the AP also shows that Vukmir had it in her calendar to attend ALEC's 45th anniversary gala at the Trump Hotel on Wednesday night. Vukmir's campaign would not confirm whether she planned to attend. Vukmir, a Wisconsin state senator, is chairman emeritus of ALEC's board of directors and was its legislator of the year in 2009.
On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Vukmir was to hold a fundraiser at the offices of the National Mining Association. That event was to include McConnell and a host of other Republican senators including Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, John Thune, of South Dakota, Roy Blunt, of Missouri, Cory Gardner, of Colorado, and Tom Cotton, of Arkansas.
A third fundraiser hosted by three Washington lobbyists was scheduled for Thursday morning.
Vukmir on Wednesday also attended a rally sponsored by conservative group FreedomWorks and voiced support for Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Earlier in the campaign, Vukmir ran a television ad showing a plumber trying to unclog a toilet as she promised to "finally drain the swamp."
Vukmir campaign manager Jess Ward defended the Washington fundraisers.
"Senator Baldwin has raised $22.6 million from special interests and Leah will be in Washington so our underdog campaign will have the resources necessary to remind voters that Senator Baldwin let down our veterans at the Tomah VA," Ward said in a statement.
Vukmir has been making Baldwin's reaction to the over-prescription of opioids at the Tomah Veterans Affairs hospital an issue in the campaign and launched a new ad Wednesday in which she speaks to the camera at Baldwin saying, "You knew about the opioid crisis at the Tomah VA, and you did nothing."
Baldwin has defended her response and accused Vukmir of trying to politicize the death of a veteran at Tomah. Baldwin worked with the family of the veteran who died in 2015 and co-sponsored a bill signed into law that toughened guidelines for prescribing drugs at VA facilities.
Also, while Baldwin has raised $22.6 million for the race, nearly 37 percent were from individuals who gave less than $200, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics. The majority, about 51 percent, came from individual donations larger than $200, while 8 percent came from political action committees.