Friday, February 22, 2008

The Ironical Nature of McCain's FEC Problems

(And, yes, that is a word.)

So, it seems that Senator McCain, the champion of the free speech-abridging campaign finance law which bears his name, is now having yet more problems regarding his campaign's finances.

The McCain-Feingold bill put a limit on the amount of money that an individual could give to a political candidate; $2300 for the primaries and $2300 for the general election. This proved especially problematic for McCain as there were 5 different Republicans who, at one time or another, led in the national polls before McCain secured a clear front-runner status. This had the practical effect of spreading Republican donations out amongst many different candidates. In fact, both Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani, who have both dropped their bids, had raised more money than McCain as of the last Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing on January 31 (Romney raised $14m more than McCain, not counting his own money; Giuliani raised $13m more than McCain).

In order to keep his campaign afloat, McCain took out a $3m line of credit with a bank, pledging his donor lists and a life insurance policy as collateral. Now it appears that he was loaned another $1m using his eligibility for federal matching funds as collateral, for which he applied when it looked like he might need to rely on public financing when his campaign was floundering and his donations were drying up.

Well, now that he's the only Republican left standing (and, no, I don't count Huckabee), he doesn't want to use public financing as it would basically hamstring his campaign until September. And by hamstring, I mean hamstring. If I understand the byzantine strictures of the public financing rules correctly, McCain would only be allowed to spend $50m on his primary campaign. Well, McCain has already spent roughly $48.5m as of January 31. For all practical purposes, this would mean that McCain could not spend any money between now and September. Barak Obama spent nearly $30m in January alone and he's reportedly raised $60m in February alone.

McCain is now trying to lawyer his way out of this mess, saying that they didn't actually pledge his federal funds eligibility but that he pledged to pledge for future federal funds, or some such nonsense. The FEC chairman made it known that he still has "questions" about whether McCain's loan shenanigans will allow him to drop out of the public financing regime. The ironical part, of course, is that McCain never would have even considered applying for public financing were it not for the unconstitutional donation restrictions of his own legislation.

The other ironical part of this charade is that, even if McCain did violate FEC rules, it may not matter because the FEC is currently operating without a quorum amongst its commissioners, which is required in order to issue enforcement edicts. There are currently only 2 commissioners out of 6 that are have been confirmed by the Senate, leaving the FEC in the role of an non-binding advisory panel and not an enforcement agency. This situation is the doing can't make this stuff up...Barak Obama and Russ Feingold. Senators Obama and Feingold put a "hold" one of the Republican nominees, Hans von Spakovsky, for the FEC (which is comprised of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats). Mr. von Spakovsky believes that people should be forced to show an ID before they vote, which is apparently a racist notion (because somehow forcing poor minorities to get a photo ID is akin to disenfranchisement even though you can't so much as cash a check without one).

Many have speculated that Obama (the idealist) was motivated by a desire to trip up his primary opponent John Edwards, who was the only major Democratic candidate who had applied for public funds, and Russ Feingold was probably either motivated by his profound sense of White Guilt or by his desire to make federal elections as difficult as possible (see the aforementioned McCain-Feingold law). The Republicans responded by putting a reciprocal "hold" on the Democratic nominees, and it's been a standoff ever since.

So, McCain's likely opponent and the co-sponsor of the legislation that created this loan mess for McCain in the first place, may likely save his hide with their back room maneuvering. Like I said, you can't make this stuff up.


alese said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alese said...

But nobody really says that word!