Democracy Has Prevailed.

June 20, 2008

McCain's Own Funding Scandal

Jim O'Toole has a rundown in yesterday's P-G of the news that Senator Obama opted out of public financing:

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 winguts, of course, are crying foul. That paragon of truth and beauty, Newsmax:

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.

No more.

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.


Here's Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:

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.

O'Toole touches on this:

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.

Marshall explained it all last February:

John McCain. Maverick. Straight-shooter. Playing fast and loose with campaign finance law.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Note that our usual crowd of Wingnuts have not commented on this matter. That's because they haven't had a chance to listen to Rush and BillO yet, so they don't know what they think.

But just wait till tonight!

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Yep, yawn. You lefties got any polls that you can cite as fair and balanced. LMAO LMAO

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

So the progressive excuse for Mr Hope/Change lying like any other politician is "they do it too".
This just proves that Obama is just another politician despite progressives claiming otherwise.
Change you can’t believe in
Politics as usual from Black Jesus. But then, the only people fooled by this very ordinary politician are…well, the fools among us.
Now why should gun owners believe anything he says about Gun Control and supporting the second amendment when he has just shown he will boldly lie to get elected.

Anonymous said...

This just proves that Obama is just another politician despite progressives claiming otherwise.

Thank you, Mein Heir, for proving that John McCain is ALSO "just another politician." But McCain ALSO says that he "never loved America."

But that's OK. You'll vote for him because Rush tells you to.

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

SS why are you getting me to defend Mccain? I just enjoy Obama-bashing and his BS Hope/Change "new" kind of politics.
When did he say never?
"I didn't really love America until I was deprived of her company."

Anonymous said...

You caught me in a typo, Mein Heir. McCain didn't say "never." As you point out, he merely said, "I didn't love America."

Why are you getting me to defend Obama? I just enjoy Wingnut-bashing, and their "post 9/11" BS.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Heir, way to conflate the issues...but there quite not the same.

First, Obama never pledged to take public financing, so he's broken no pledge. What he did say is that he was open to reaching an agreement with McCain by which they would both opt in to the system - but McCain doesn't want an agreement. Much like his townhall gimmick, he wants it his way and no way else. Why would anyone make an agreement with someone like that?

In fact, it was just a few years ago that McCain was praising the small donor campaign of Howard Dean, saying that that was in the spirit of the campaign reform he's so fond of touting - bringing in hundreds of thousands of small dollar donors to the process. Of course, now that that type of campaign is going to be used against him, he's out saying out sorts of things about Obama.

As a progressive, I think what Obama has done is good for our Democracy. I'd much rather see a campaign powered by small dollar donations(as Obama's is) than to see a relic of DC gaming the system, much as McCain has.

The real hypocrite here is McCain, a man that champions campaign finance reform but then tried to game the system this past year to secure a loan, essentially lying to the FEC in order to do so.

If there is something noble in a man of such lowly character running his campaign on the taxpayers' dime, then I don't see it.

Anonymous said...

The real hypocrite here is---everyone who defends Obama. His signature, his pledge, his promises are worth no more than any other politician. He does and says what he needs to,as Rev. Wright has said. And there, the "old Rev." thought he had a convert. He just had another opportunist.

EdHeath said...

Well, it sounds like both candidates are at some distance from public financing. But I think we do have to say that Obama broke a pledge. At least that is what the NYTimes is saying.

Both candidates will be hurt bytheir own actions. The Times is treating Obama as the more significant offender because of his reformer stance, but I suspect this will be a small issue in the general election and the grand scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

As the NY Times writes: Early last year, before he became a money-raising phenomenon, Mr. Obama floated in a filing with the Federal Election Commission the possibility of working out an agreement with the other party’s nominee to accept public financing if both sides agreed. Later, when asked in a questionnaire whether he would participate in the system if his opponent did the same, Mr. Obama wrote, “yes,” adding, “If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

Gee, I hope he can be more aggressive in making the rest of his statements come true. I am counting on t.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Yawn, but since we are on the subject, can anyone tell me exactly what new changes Obama is going to bring to govt? It appears with his latest flap on financing his campaign that he has no ideas at all.

Anonymous said...

Waaa...Obama is doing what Republicans have been doing for 50 years! No fair! Waaaa!

Anonymous said...

Actually, shitrock, I respectfully disagree...Obama is not doing what Republicans have done for 50 years...what he has done is harness the power of thousands and thousands of small dollar donors...that's a big difference from a Republican Party bankrolled by the uber-wealthy.

Let's look at what Obama said:

“If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

That does not equal "I pledge to take public financing." Not even close.

Let's look at one of the key words: agreement. Requires more than one party, that being John McCain.

What these wingers are really upset about is that Obama didn't accept a bullshit agreement from a man that knows his way around bullshit. And why should he?

So exactly what pledge did he break? One that he never made, because that seems to be the only one we're talking about?

Will it matter? No. Not at all.

Has Obama done anything wrong? No. Unlike McCain, Obama didn't lie to the FEC to secure a loan, saying that he would take public financing and then opting out. He has, of course, opted back in because he has no other choice.

So why wasn't an agreement reached? Well, St. John didn't want to curb the spending of GOP 527's and the RNC, whereas Obama is already asking groups that support him to suspend their 527's(MoveOn is one example).

What was McCain's plan? To con Obama into a phony public financing agreement, which wouldn't have been entirely true because McCain would have unleasehd the RNC and 527's, knowing that the RNC is one of the few Republican organizations actually raising money(at least more than the DNC). It would have been an advantage for McCain.

And Obama is somehow wrong for recognizing that? For recognizing that John McCain is deceitful and disingenuous?

The winger clowns really need to do a better job; if this is the best you've got, it's going to be a very, very, very good year for Democrats.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Guess again on the Obama donors. George Soros is not poor. But then to the lefties, Sen. Clinton financed her campaign from poor, minumum wage chinese workers from NY. Isn't that guy who set it all up in jail? Obama gets his money from big corporate donors.

Anonymous said...

“If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

"When I am president, I will keep the moratorium in place and prevent oil companies from drilling off Florida's coasts,

I PLEDGE allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.....

Yeah right!

Anonymous said...

Jesus...try to follow along with this John K., if you can.

Soros? Who the fuck is talking about Soros?

The vast majority of Obama's donations have come from small donors with contribution averaging approx. $125 or less. Fact. Look it up.

And where does this "Clinton financed her campaign w/ minimum wage Chinese workers from NY" come from?" Did you just pull that out of your ass or was it handed to you after some winger nutjob pulled it out of his or her ass?

And how sweet is it that I've finally seen my first truly dipshit winger attack Obama for the wingers might want to get your stories right on what smears your using to attack Obama...remember, according to you clowns, he's unpatriotic because he won't put his hand over his heart during the Anthem, not the pledge(that's what the picture was - they were listening to the National Anthem, not taking the pledge)...

And just to show that you wingers don't know what you're talking about, you don't have to put your hand over your heart for the take off your hat. You put your hand over your heart for the Pledge.

Just because Reagan started putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, doesn't mean that's what you're required to do.

Don't you guys have anything better, you know, zanier and more suitable for your deranged winger sensibilities? Like Obama was sworn in on a Koran or Obama was secretly raised by Al Qaeda to infilitrate the highest levels of government and surrender the US to the restored Caliphate? Or maybe try attacking his mother or wife?

Hell, how long before they start smearing his kids?

Anonymous said...

John K. says: I am talking about George Soros. Because if you think Obama is smart enough to run this campaign we are really doomed. So exactly what new ideas does Obama have? So far, only the same old ideas of the Democratic party. They been tried before and failed before.

Anonymous said...

Now I gotta think that Anon 6:23 CAN NOT be John K.


Because he called it the DEMOCRATIC party and not the DEMOCRAT party.

Has to be some John K wanna be.

Anonymous said...

Don't be silly. Even John K. doesn't wannabe John K.