The Lonely Centrist

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Campaign Finance Ignorance of John McCain

What are we to make of John McCain? Among those familiar with campaign finance laws, it has long been known that John McCain is woefully ignorant of the law. But how ignorant? Well, browsing the web I happened across the transcript of a 2002 interview (hey, here at the Lonely Centrist we're not like those bloggers who are on top of everything and posting every day) of Senator McCain by Peter Robinson, for the PBS program "Uncommon Knowledge." Though the interview is old, it is worth posting some excerpts:

It has never been held anything but constitutional there's a limit on the amount of money that I can raise.

Oops. That's wrong. See Buckely v. Valeo.
Even though there's laws on the books that say it's against the law for corporate contributions and union contributions--those people are able to exploit loopholes and get unlimited contributions.

Contributions from corporations and unions to candidates are prohibited. I'm not aware of any loophole around that, even in 2002.
Somebody wants to give some corporation or some union $10 million and funnel it into my campaign, they can.

Illegal earmarking; illegal contribution in name of another; etc. etc.
So what we've done in this law is say no. If you want to give, you corporation, and you union want to give money, then you can only give it in the same amounts of money that individuals are allowed to give money to McCain.

Oops. Wrong again. Under McCain-Feingold, corporate and union contributions remain prohibited. Corporate and Union PACs can give not the same amounts to McCain as an individual, but more than twice as much. I'm beginning to wonder if Senator McCain has been violating the law?
In the 1980s when I first started running for office, there was no such thing as soft money

Wrong. See Common Cause Petition for Rule Making on Soft Money, Federal Register, Jan. 4, 1985, p. 477.
In 1947 we outlawed union contributions.

Well, 1943 actually, but we'll give the Senator the benefit of a doubt, since it was in 1947 that the ban was made "permanent."
The so called Snowe-Jeffords amendment which prevents thirty days before primary and sixty days before a general that advertisements be run that are funded by unlimited amounts of money. In other words restricts the amount of money.

Well, no. It limits corporate and union money, but a George Soros or Charles Wyley can still spend unlimited amounts.
Oh, one more quote:
I was always in favor of campaign finance reform.

Well, no. Senator McCain voted against "reform" in both 1987 and 1988, just before the Keating Five scandal (McCain, of course, was one of the "five") broke.

And this is all in just one interview!

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life