JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A conservative fundraising group endorsed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and pledged Thursday to direct $290,000 to help replenish the Republican’s financially strapped campaign against Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The announcement by the Senate Conservatives Fund marks the most high-profile financial commitment Akin has received as he seeks to recover from the loss of millions of dollars of planned advertising by other national groups that aid Republicans. Those groups withdrew their support after Akin remarked last month that women’s bodies have ways of averting pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”

Akin has apologized repeatedly since then while rejecting calls from top Republicans including presidential nominee Mitt Romney to quit the race. He’s hoping that his campaign can gain momentum after he let pass a final deadline Tuesday to drop out of the race.

The Senate Conservatives Fund said it decided to endorse Akin because he is a Republican nominee, the race against McCaskill remains competitive and Missouri is important to Republican efforts to gain the four seats necessary to win control of the Senate. The organization said it hopes to get $100,000 of the pledged money to Akin’s campaign by Sunday, which is the cutoff for the quarterly financial reporting period.

The Fund was built to prominence over recent years with the aid of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a favorite among tea party activists. Among other things, the Senate Conservatives Fund supports a ban on congressional spending earmarks, which use legislation to direct a particular amount of money to a particular entity in a particular state or congressional district.

Akin has used earmarks in the past to direct funding to such projects as highway projects and military armor, although he and Matt Hoskins, the executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, have both said Akin supports the group’s ban on earmarks.

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