Republican Matt Doheny is accusing his likely Democratic opponent in November, Rep. Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, of "selling out" his constituents in favor of big-moneyed interests.
Mr. Owens "can't quit (the) bill because he risks turning off SOPA spigot," the news release says.
The not-so-subtle suggestion from the Doheny campaign is that Mr. Owens's vote is for sale.
"These allegations are absurd," said Sean Magers, a spokesman for Mr. Owens. "Outrageous claims like these do nothing to promote a civil discussion on the issue of internet piracy."
This is in reaction to the Stop Online Piracy Act, which seeks to stem the tide of content theft on the Internet from foreign sites. Critics have called the legislation overly broad and harmful the Internet. Mr. Owens, a sponsor of the bill, has said he's open to changes in it; piracy is a problem that costs billions of dollars to the economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs, Mr. Owens has said.
The news release from Mr. Doheny lists industries whose members have donated to Mr. Owens, and calls that his "price" for "selling out his constituency."
But drawing a direct line from campaign contributions to support for a particular bill is a difficult and foggy proposition (I've learned the hard way). For example, "unions" and "lawyers" are two categories of SOPA supporters, and they've also been generous to Mr. Owens. Unions and lawyers, though, are big donors to Democratic causes, whether SOPA is on the table or not. Did the unions and lawyers that donated to Mr. Owens do it so that he would support SOPA? That's a huge stretch.
Mr. Owens is actually nearer to the top of the list of recipients of anti-SOPA cash than he is for pro-SOPA cash.
This war of words comes amid a pretty interesting discussion that I was having with Mr. Owens in the editorial boardroom today, when I asked him whether his calls for civility were consistent with some of his fundraising emails that label Mr. Doheny as "a far-right millionaire." More on that later.
Mr. Owens has received a whole lot of calls that oppose SOPA, but said in the editorial board meeting today that his support for the legislation remains.
"It's never too late to reconsider,” Mr. Doheny said in a statement.