Reversal on Fortune

From The New York Times:

The Democratic National Committee is planning to file suit against the Federal Election Commission Monday in an effort to compel it to investigate Senator John McCain’s withdrawal from the public financing system for the primary.

The lawsuit, which is to be filed in United States District Court in Washington, is largely a procedural move, unlikely to change anything in the dispute in the immediate future. The D.N.C. filed a complaint with the commission in February, challenging Mr. McCain’s right to pull out of public financing.

Original DVD cover.
No wonder he’s smiling. Why follow the law if you know you can get away with breaking it?

But the commission, which normally has six commissioners, has four vacancies, rendering it unable to rule on campaign finance questions because it lacks a quorum. The empty seats on the commission have not been filled because of a standoff in Congress over some reappointments.


Mr. McCain had applied for public financing for the primary for his campaign when his campaign was struggling but he decided to bypass the system after his fundraising improved. The public financing system gives candidates access to millions of dollars in matching money from a taxpayer fund but forces them to abide by strict spending caps before the party conventions. Mr. McCain has by now exceeded the $54 million cap that he would have been bound by under public financing.

The D.N.C. is resting its arguments about the legality of Mr. McCain’s withdrawal from the public financing system on two issues. The first is a $4 million loan Mr. McCain secured last fall to keep his campaign afloat. The D.N.C. argues that documents make clear that Mr. McCain used the promise of matching money as collateral in securing the loan, a contention the McCain campaign denies by saying the loan was carefully drawn to avoid that.

The party is also arguing that Mr. McCain used his certification for the federal matching money to get on the ballot in states like Ohio and Delaware, but Mr. McCain’s lawyers said nothing about those state’s laws barred Mr. McCain from being able to subsequently withdraw from public financing.

Oh, kids, can you just smell the hypocrisy?!
From The Trail at the Washington Post (April 8, 2008):

For much of the 2008 presidential campaign, groups that fought alongside Sen. John McCain to reform the nation’s campaign finance system have remained silent about what they privately viewed as McCain’s quiet retreat from the issue.

Over the past year, McCain’s name has been notably absent from legislation that would bring voluntary public financing to congressional elections, as well as from the Presidential Funding Act — an effort to modernize the current presidential public financing system. McCain had co-sponsored a similar bill in 2003, but this year his former campaign finance reform partner, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.) is being joined by a different Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).


[…] as McCain is joined at the Willard Hotel by a crowd of Washington lobbyists who will be donating to his presidential campaign, [Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonpartisan group] will protest the senator who was once an ally. David Donnelly, the group’s national campaigns director, is releasing a sharply critical report called “McCain’s Multiple Views on Public Financing of Elections.” The report outlines McCain’s gathering support for the concept of public financing and then shows his retreat over the past two years.

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