McCain is breaking the law

Campaign finance law, that is.

Yes, the big campaign finance reformer is flouting the law that governs public matching funds for presidential campaigns.

A group of bloggers including Markos of Daily Kos and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. The complaint accuses McCain of

violations of campaign finance law for spending beyond limits imposed by his decision to take public financing.

McCain has claimed he is backing off that decision, and justifies it with the fact that he never received any of that public money. However, the law clearly states that he is bound by those limits if he uses the promise of those funds in order to secure campaign loans — something he absolutely did.

Legal expert Adam B explains more about this issue today.

Also, MoveOn.org Political Action sent out an e-mail about this issue, and I’ve put the full text after the jump.

The e-mail includes a link you can click if you want to sign on to the FEC complaint as well.

Incidentally, I have read that McCain also used the certificate saying he had qualified for matching funds in order to avoid the onerous signature requirements to get on the ballot for the Ohio primary. So he didn’t just use the commitment to take matching funds to secure a loan, he also used it to get on the ballot.

Now, worried that he won’t be able to compete with the Democratic nominee financially, he is trying to back out. What a weasel.


John McCain is breaking the law. Not just any law, but campaign finance law-an issue that he claims to champion. MoveOn has joined together with some leading bloggers to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.

Will you sign on to the complaint with us? The more of us who add our names, the more the media will take notice of McCain abandoning his principles.

You can read the complaint against McCain and sign your name to demand accountability here:

http://action.firedoglake.com/…

Here’s the basic issue: Last summer, when McCain’s campaign was seemingly on its last legs, he sent the FEC notice that he would abide by campaign finance spending limits in exchange for federal matching funds.1 He used the government’s promise of those funds to secure a bank loan that kept his campaign alive.2

Now that he’s got the nomination and has more money, he’s trying to withdraw from the public finance spending limits. But that’s plainly illegal. A past FEC ruling clearly said that candidates can withdraw from public financing “provided that the certification of funds has not been pledged as security for private funding.”3 That’s what McCain did. The American Prospect points out:

Consider what would have happened if McCain had lost New Hampshire and sunk under the waves: he would have accepted the public money and he would have used it to pay off the $3 million loan….And thus McCain is tricking the system exactly as the exception foresees…4

McCain has now raised and spent more than the $56,757,500 that was allowed under the rules he agreed to!5 That means every penny McCain raises and spends before the Republican National Convention is illegal-and he knows it.

Oh, and there’s one more wrinkle. The FEC currently lacks enough commissioners to hold a vote against McCain! That’s because Republican Senators want to appoint a dirty trickster to the FEC and won’t let three good appointees through until that happens. Our new FEC complaint will draw some sorely needed publicity to McCain’s flagrant lawbreaking and the Republican obstruction in the Senate-it’ll also make sure there’s something to vote on as soon as new commissioners are confirmed.

Can you sign your name to the complaint against McCain today? Click here:

http://action.firedoglake.com/…

Thanks for all you do.

-Adam G., Noah, Ilyse, Karin, Justin and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team

 Thursday, March 27th, 2008

1. “Acknowledgment of Receipt, Request for Presidential Primary Matching Funds,” Federal Election Commission documentation to John McCain’s campaign, August 10, 2007

http://www.fec.gov/finance/200…

2. “John McCain Has An Exit Strategy,” Mark Schmitt on Tapped, the American Prospect blog, February 5, 2008

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3537…

3. FEC Advisory Opinion 2003-35, to Richard Gephardt, December 12, 2003

http://saos.nictusa.com/aodocs…

4. Ibid.

5.”Complaint Against Senator John McCain and John McCain 2008,” March 24, 2008 (Citing McCain’s March 2008 Monthly Financial Report

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3539…

6. “Senate Battle Over FEC Nominee May Hamper Agency’s Ability to Act,” Washington Post, October 26, 2007

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3538…

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