As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

McCain Campaign Finance Facade Starting To Break

The John McCain attacks against Barack Obama's perceived hedge on taking public money in the general election spawned some editorials this morning, but this has the potential of rebounding back on McCain in a big way.

It turns out that, not only did McCain accept public money for the primary and then wiggle out of it after he had a shot to be the nominee, he took a loan before pledging to receive those public funds, essentially committing himself to that public system.

John McCain's cash-strapped campaign borrowed $1 million from a Bethesda bank two weeks before the New Hampshire primary by pledging to enter the public financing system if his bid for the presidency faltered, newly disclosed records show.

McCain had already taken a $3 million bank loan in November to keep his campaign afloat, and he sought from the same bank $1 million more shortly before this month's Super Tuesday contests, this time pledging incoming but unprocessed contributions as collateral. He never used the funds of the most recent loan, because his win in the South Carolina primary helped him raise enough money to compete in Florida, his campaign aides said last night.

The loans, revealed yesterday in documents a McCain attorney filed with the Federal Election Commission, offer fresh details about how the Republican senator from Arizona scrambled to secure money as his shoestring campaign navigated a rapid-fire succession of primary contests.

The unorthodox lending terms also raised fresh questions from McCain's critics about his ability to repeatedly draw money from the Maryland-based Fidelity & Trust Bank. Campaign finance lawyers speculated whether McCain may have inadvertently committed himself to entering the public financing system for the remainder of the primary season by holding out the prospect of taking public matching funds in exchange for the $1 million loan in December.

"This whole area is uncharted," said Lawrence H. Norton, a former general counsel of the FEC.

This is really seedy. Apparently McCain only wanted taxpayer money to bail out his campaign and pay his debts if he lost. If he won, he'd rather get his cash from corporations and lobbyists. He basically wanted us to pay for his mistakes. DHinMI explains:

Think of it like this. John McCain secured a personal loan by using his home as collateral. He requested more money be added to the loan, but the bank said it was more than he had collateral to pay back. McCain countered by telling the bank that his neighbor failed to salt his icy sidewalk, and McCain slipped on it. McCain got a doctor to say the slip-and-fall hurt McCain's back, he sued the neighbor, and he expects to win a big settlement. The bank said "sure, OK, that's what happens if you win your court case. But what if you lose?" In response McCain said "oh, I suppose I'll have to get a job," and the bank then said "OH, OK, that's good enough for us!" and authorized the loan.

If McCain used the certification for matching funds as collateral he would have definitely been locked in to the matching funds scheme, including the spending caps. What happened here is that the bank didn't require him to offer up the certificate as collateral. The bank simply accepted McCain's word that he had it and would enter the federal system if necessary, and the bank took him at his word.

John McCain: Lying To Banks, Now That's Some Straight Talk!

This makes it all the more ridiculous for the progressive blogosphere to have jumped on the Obama story from McCain's perspective, when Mr. Maverick is clearly such a rank hypocrite on this issue. In fact, it's a familiar recent pattern for McCain, whose actions haven't matched his rhetoric for a long time.

It’s not as if McCain has been caving in on anything important, like economic recovery ...

(Feb. 6: The Senate votes on a Democratic economic stimulus plan, which would give more help to the unemployed, veterans and senior citizens than the version President Bush wants. Forced to choose between Bush and the unemployed/veterans/elderly, McCain flew back to Washington and — skipped the vote.)

Or torture ...

(Feb. 13: The Senate considers a bill, vehemently opposed by the White House, which would prohibit C.I.A. interrogators from using tactics like waterboarding on detainees. McCain, whose ringing denunciation of waterboarding was the highlight of the Republican debates, votes — no. He says his own Detainee Treatment Act already bans use of physical force during interrogations. This would be the law that Bush, in one of his famous signing statements, said the president did not have to follow.) [...]

McCain’s inconsistency is actually nothing new. We saw a lot of it during the Bush tax debates. McCain opposed the tax cuts as unwise and unfair, and then opposed getting rid of them under the theory that it would be a shock to the upper-income people who benefited from them and never noticed they were scheduled to expire. McCain seems to have developed a kind of right-to-life theory of economics under which any tax cut that comes into being has to remain on the books for all eternity.

This could turn into a real fiasco for McCain, if the blogosphere, the major media and the leading candidates close the triangle on it.

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