The winguts, of course, are crying foul. That paragon of truth and beauty, Newsmax:
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama yesterday opened the way for the freest-spending general-election campaign in presidential history with a controversial but widely anticipated decision to opt out of the federal financing system.
The choice to rely on the fundraising juggernaut he built through the primaries all but assures the Democratic standard-bearer of a major financial advantage over Arizona Sen. John McCain, one that will give him the tactical freedom to expand the number of states he can realistically contest in the fall campaign.
In light of previous statements that he planned to participate in the taxpayer-funded system, however, Mr. Obama opened himself to criticism that he had allowed pragmatic political considerations to subvert a centerpiece of post-Watergate efforts to curb the influence of money in politics.
The thing the winguts are missing (and this is probably on purpose) is the fact that John McCain has been breaking campaign finance law for months.
Barack Obama chose winning over his word.
The Democrat once made a conditional agreement to accept taxpayer money from the public financing system, and accompanying spending limits, if his Republican opponent did, too.
Here's Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:
O'Toole touches on this:
I mentioned earlier today that it was quite a thing to see John McCain denouncing Barack Obama for breaking his word on public financing when McCain himself is at this moment breaking the law in continuing to spend over the spending limits he promised to abide by through the primary season in exchange for public financing. (By the FEC's rules, we're still in the primary phase of the election and will be until the conventions.)
I want to return to this subject though because this is not hyperbole or some throw away line. He's really doing it. McCain opting into public financing, accepted the spending limits and then profited from that opt-in by securing a campaign saving loan. And then he used some clever, but not clever enough lawyering, to opt back out. And the person charged with saying what flies and what doesn't -- the Republican head of the FEC -- said he's not allowed to do that. He can't opt out unilaterally unless the FEC says he can.
The most generous interpretation of what happened is that McCain's lawyer came up with an ingenious legal two step that allowed him to double dip in the campaign finance system, eat his cake and spend it too. But even if you buy that line, successful gaming of the system doesn't really count as strict adherence. And the point is irrelevant since the head of the FEC -- a Republican -- says McCain cannot do this on his own.
Marshall explained it all last February:
Renewing a long-standing criticism, the Obama campaign contended that Mr. McCain's hands were not clean on campaign spending issues, noting that he had once indicated that he would accept federal matching funds and spending limits during the primaries, only to back out of that stance later.
Mr. Potter responded that the McCain campaign had said all along that the possibility of participating in the federal public-funding system for the primaries was only an option, not a commitment by the campaign.
Democratic critics have pointed to the Federal Election Commission contention that Mr. McCain should have sought its permission to withdraw from the primary campaign public-funding system, a position Mr. McCain's lawyers have rejected.
John McCain. Maverick. Straight-shooter. Playing fast and loose with campaign finance law.