Where’s the evidence for radio host’s accusation that Hill backers paid for Hill’s Tea Party Express endorsement?

Colorado Springs radio host Jeff Crank thinks the Tea Party Express, which claims to be “the most aggressive and influential national Tea Party group in the political arena,” endorsed senatorial candidate Owen Hill in exchange for big donations from Hill’s Colorado backers.

On his KVOR radio show Feb. 15, Crank said:

Crank: “Here’s what I think happened.  I’m just going to throw it out there, okay?  I think a big pile of money wound its way out to the Tea Party Express from Colorado, from a donor or two, who are supportive of Owen Hill, and somehow that endorsement just happened to go to Owen Hill.”

Crank, who used to work for Americans for Prosperity, went on to say that the Tea Party Express is “running the ads with that money” in support of Hill. Click here to see a Tea Party Express ad touting its endorsement of Hill.

“So, in other words, you just buy an endorsement from a group,” Crank said on air. “Rent-a-group.”

“You know, far too often this kind of stuff happens in politics, and people get away with it because nobody calls them on it,”  Crank continued. “And we have to call them on it.”

If you listen to Crank’s show, you know that, indeed, he regularly calls out fellow conservatives on their bad behavior. I admire him for it.

But these latest salvos are of such a serious nature that even though he’s just a talk-radio host, as opposed to a real journalist, Crank should have provided concrete evidence of his accusations before leveling them.

Via twitter, I asked Crank for his proof that cash donations led to Hill’s Tea Party Express endorsement and for the names of the Hill donors he had in mind. I’ll update this post if he responds. See Crank’s extended comments on the topic, along with audio, here.

Crank, who twice ran for Congress as a Republican, apparently made the allegation based, in part, on his personal knowledge of the people involved.

“The folks that [Hill has] surrounded himself with are notorious for going out and trying to hijack a movement,” Crank said on air.

Crank: : “Yeah, look, there’s a history of this, both, I think, in the consultants that are working for Owen Hill. There’s been a consistent effort over the years to do this – to kind of create groups and kind of hijack names, if you will. I mean, certainly, they did it in my race by kind of hijacking the name of the Christian Coalition, when I ran for Congress. But they’ve done it several other times. They did it last year in Colorado. They formed a group called the ‘Colorado Tea Party.’ And they were about ready to send out a bunch of mailers endorsing candidates, and again, it’s just hijacking the name of the Tea Party. We saw it about three weeks ago, when the same candidate and his consultants sent out a press release saying that the movement – the recall organizers, the people that organized the recalls, were supporting a petition effort to get Owen Hill and Tom Tancredo on the ballot. Well, you know, I talked to a couple of the real organizers of the recall effort, and they said, ‘We’re not involved in that! We’re not supporting either of them.'”

On his Saturday show, the president of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots Regina Thompson told Crank that the Tea Party Express endorsement of Crank “certainly looks suspicious.”

And Loren Sheets, President of 285 Corridor Tea Party added that it’s “very likely” that money was involved in the Hill endorsement.

“You know,” Thompson continued on air, “Why else would this particular organization? I mean, they introduced him at their press conference as ‘the Tea-Party grassroots candidate.’ I mean, they said, ‘he is the grassroots candidate’ when in fact he’s not.”

So maybe if Crank doesn’t have evidence himself, he can get it elsewhere.

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