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

Monday, February 25, 2008

McCain's McCain-Feingold Problem

The DNC has filed a complaint with the FEC against John McCain for violating public financing laws.

In order to receive matching funds, John McCain signed a binding agreement with the FEC to accept spending limits and to abide by the conditions of receiving those funds. The FEC makes clear that any request to withdraw from the agreement must be granted by the FEC. In other words, McCain can't just unilaterally withdraw. FEC Chairman David Mason made this clear in a letter to McCain advising him that the law requires the FEC to approve his request to withdraw from his contract.

According to past Commission rulings, the McCain campaign would not be allowed to withdraw from matching funds because it has already violated a key condition for being let out of the program - pledging matching funds as collateral for a private loan. McCain obtained a $4 million line of credit -- drew $2,971,697 from it - and documents make clear that the promise of public financing was used to secure his loan.

Not only that, McCain used his opting into the public system to waive ballot access fees in upcoming primary states. That translates into millions of dollars, so the fact that McCain has claimed that he's received no material benefit from the public system because the checks haven't been cut yet is simply wrong.

The other issue is that the public financing system limits campaign spending for the primaries, and for McCain that means right up until September, when he is nominated at the convention. McCain is almost up to that limit of $54 million dollars, which means he faces the very real proposition of either being broke for seven months, or breaking his own campaign finance law through spending, which would carry a JAIL SENTENCE. FEC Commissioner David Mason has already said that there would need to be a ruling to let McCain out of the public system. Jonathan Singer has more.

What's so interesting about this is that this was supposed to be an issue where Barack Obama was vulnerable because of perceived waffling over whether or not to opt out of the public system in the general election. He's clarified the issue and it won't be a factor, and yet McCain now is in major trouble because of his dirty efforts to game the system.

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