Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has been criticized for attending a Washington fund raiser for far-right Tea Party member Mick Mulvaney which aided his re-election campaign.
The Irish Times reports that Kenny attended the event on March 13th at the start of his annual St Patrick’s Day tour of America.
The paper says the event was used by Republican Party candidate Mulvaney to raise funds for his re-election bid.
The South Carolina Congressman hosted the party in an Irish pub in Washington.
The invitations to the event from Republican fundraising firm Gula Graham Group highlighted that Fine Gael leader Kenny would be the special guest ahead of Republican majority whip Kevin McCarthy and ‘at least’ 12 Republican congressman.
The paper says many of the congressmen are either Tea Party members or popular within the faction.
House speaker and senior Republican John Boehner also attended the reception.
The emailed invitation also asked guests to send contributions payable to ‘Mulvaney for Congress’ to the Gula Graham Group.
The paper says it is highly unusual for a foreign leader to be linked with an effort to raise campaign funds for a US political party.
A Government spokesman has told the Irish Times that the fundraising question was not an issue for the Prime Minister.
The spokesman said the reception was a ‘drop-by’ event as part of Kenny’s lobbying efforts to pass immigration laws to help illegal Irish seeking legal status in the US.
He added that PM Kenny did not speak at the reception and used it as an opportunity to network with Republicans.
The paper adds that Irish government officials have recently stepped up efforts to lobby Republicans on immigration reform as the party will determine whether it will pass Congress.
Democrats have already helped pass a Bill in the Senate and supported the issue in the House of Representatives but legislation has stalled there.
Mulvaney is a member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress. The Tea Party is officially opposed to giving so-called undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
Kenny’s presence at the event has been criticized by some.
Stella O’Leary, president of the Irish American Democrats political action committee, told the Irish Times that she could not recall a Taoiseach (PM) attending such a US fundraiser before.
She said: “How do we book him? I was astonished to hear that the Taoiseach attended a political fundraiser. If he is doing political fundraising, we would be delighted to have him, since all Irish-American Democratic candidates have been supportive of Irish causes, including immigration.”
But Paul S Ryan, a lawyer with the Washington-based Campaign Legal Centre, countered and said: “I don’t see anything illegal or impermissible relating to this on US federal campaign laws.
“This event is not explicitly a fundraising event, for starters.”