Republican Richard Painter to run for Senate as Democrat to thwart Trump

Richard Painter

Richard Painter, a longtime Republican who was chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush's White House, intends to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota this year as a Democrat, according to a filing he made recently with federal elections officials.

Painter is challenging Democratic Senator Tina Smith for the party's nomination.

"We are not going to allow foreign billionaires to come into this state and mine our natural resources, destroy our environment on a hit-and-run and get out", Painter said.

When Painter announced last month that he was forming an exploratory committee, he told reporters that he wasn't sure what party he might run for.

Karin Housley, the lone Republican in the field, has just under $700,000 but so far has no primary opponent.

Painter has let it be known that if he makes a run for Senate, he will not accept money from Super PACs. He says he also wants to address campaign finance reform - he's disavowed taking money from political action committees - and the influence of corporations in Washington.

The Republican Party, he said, has signaled that "nobody is welcome to be a candidate for a national office who does not support Donald Trump". "Mr. Painter has repeatedly called for the impeachment of President Trump, an extreme notion deeply unpopular with many in our state". The DFL might have to raise a lot money - and spend it - in the primary cycle with these two going after each other, which is remarkably similar to what they're now doing in the gubernatorial race. However, 70% of voters who identified with the Democratic Party said they would support a candidate who was a proponent of impeachment. On health care, he said the country must find a way to cover all Americans.

Painter, 56, a University of Minnesota professor of corporate law who is seeking elected office for the first time, lives in Mendota Heights with his wife, Karen, an associate professor of music history at the University of Minnesota.

Painter was born in Philadelphia in 1961.

The former White House ethics lawyers insists he won't attack Smith and will not run attack ads against her ahead of the primary in August.

One of Trump's loudest critics, Painter is now vice chairman of the nonprofit government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). That group sued Trump, alleging that he violated the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause by refusing to sell his assets or put them in a blind trust.

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