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LeMieux's fundaiser: "To support my Republican colleagues"

George LeMieux said he had about 50 attendees -- and several who couldn't attend but sent checks -- to a reception and dinner Tuesday night to benefit his new political action committee, Protect America's Future. 

The Gov. Charlie Crist appointee brushed off speculation he'll use the committee for a future political bid when he leaves the Senate after next November's election.

"I'm trying to support my Republican colleagues to get elected in the Senate," LeMieux said. "There are only 40 of us and if there was one more we wouldn't have this awful health care bill. We'd be able to have real compromise and a bipartisan effort."

Republicans, he said, "are the fire wall between the Democrats in Congress and the protection of our freedoms."

Florida Dems assailed the fundraiser, saying they had "demanded" that LeMieux pledge not to raise money for Crist so "as to not look like a Blagojevich-esq, quid-pro-quo deal was made.

"Unfortunately, Sen. LeMieux’s fundraiser today proved that he cares more about Crist’s political ambition than the people he took an oath to represent,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff. “Because Floridians are sick of Crist and LeMieux's corrupt cronyism, both of them will be sent into retirement come 2010.”