Archive for February 24th, 2008

And Speaking Of Campaign Finance…

DNC takes action against McCain for being a dishonest tool:

John McCain’s attempted politically motivated gaming of the public financing system is already drawing the attention of the Federal Elections Commisssion, with the chairman of the FEC firing off a letter to McCain’s presidential campaign asking them to explain why, after they had been certified to become a part of the program, they believe they’re able to pull out without approval. Now the Democratic National Committee is joining in the act, and will file an FEC complaint tomorrow against the McCain campaign.

According to DNC chairman Howard Dean, McCain has clearly received a “material gain” from being a part of the public financing program, and as such cannot opt out of it at this point.

First, McCain was able to get around ballot access rules for the primaries in states around the country — at a value of $2-$3 million (what Dean’s own campaign had to spend on ballot access, having not participated in the public financing system in 2004) — by participating in the program. Pulling out now would enable him to reap the material benefit of ballot access offered by the program — again, valued at millions of dollars — without having to abide by the program’s overall spending limit (somewhere in the neighborhood of $54 million).

Second, McCain used the promise of public funds as collateral to help secure a private loan. Once a candidate uses actual public funds in this manner, they have used those dollars, thus locking them into the program. This is key, not only in that it seems to bind him to the program but also in that McCain showed a clear willingness to capitalize on voluntary taxpayer money in order to help him raise more funds from special interest lobbyists (some of whom are at the upper echelons of his campaign staff).

Finally, now that McCain is in the program and hasn’t been certified to pull out — an act that requires a vote of the FEC — it seems that he may have already gone over the spending limit in violation of the law. As of the last campaign finance filing deadline, McCain was already coming dangerously close to the $54 million threshold, and in the weeks since he might have already passed it.

In short, this is an issue of integrity — and John McCain’s lack of it. What the DNC is asking the FEC to do is fairly simple: Require McCain’s campaign to abide by the legally binding contract it created with the federal government to enjoy the benefits of the public financing system — benefits his campaign has already used — in return for abiding by the program’s spending limits. Soon the ball will be in the FEC’s court. Let’s see where they go from here.

I think the McCain campaign’s calculation here is that the FEC is hamstrung by not having a quorum of members, due to Bush’s stubborn insistence that despicable minority vote suppressor Hans von Spakovsky be included in the slate of commissioners to be confirmed by the Senate. And it’s not as if the FEC is particularly swift or effectual even when fully staffed.

Come to think of it, I have to wonder if this is the real reason for Dubya’s insistence on von Spakovsky. Sure, getting a racist, anti-democratic reactionary on the FEC is great, but essentially sidelining the FEC for the 2008 election when Republicans will have a desperate need for every dirty trick in the book is even better.

February 24th, 2008 at 07:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,McCain,Republicans

The Fundamental Roadblock To Any Kind Of Campaign Finance Reform

It has to be passed by incumbents.

Under long-standing congressional ethics rules, corporations, unions and other large organizations cannot directly pay senators stipends. But their contributions to senators’ election campaigns can be paid without limit to the children, spouses, in-laws and other relatives of the lawmakers, in a practice that has aroused controversy but is fully legal.

Since 2000, at least 20 members of the Senate dipped into their campaign contributions and wrote more than half a million dollars in checks to their own relatives, typically as payment for fundraising and other campaign work, according to a new report by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), for example, paid her son Douglas $320,409.17 in campaign donations through his company Douglas Boxer and Associates from 2001 to 2006, CREW found. Douglas Boxer is a lawyer and a 10-year veteran of her political team, a Boxer spokesman said.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) paid his daughter-in-law Danielle Enzi $306,718.18 from his campaign accounts over the same period, according to the report. She was a fundraiser before she married into the Enzi family, an Enzi spokesman said. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) paid his daughter Amy Towles $138,933.37 over six years, CREW found. Bunning’s office said it was for campaign accounting.

“It is an area that’s ripe for abuse, for someone who wants to turn campaign funds into personal use,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the nonprofit group Public Citizen. Although most lawmakers do not abuse the practice, he said, “those campaign funds always come from special interests, and those special interests are always looking for something in return.”

(…)

Senators took up the issue before passing the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act on Jan. 18, 2007. The law tightened rules on accepting meals, private plane rides and other perks from lobbyists. But an amendment to ban the practice of paying relatives for their campaign work was rejected 54 to 41, with Boxer voting “present.”

Even senators with no relatives listed in the CREW report criticized the measure, offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), as overly harsh. “I see no evidence of anything improper in this body,” said Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during the floor debate.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said: “I have never had a relative on my campaign payroll. I just don’t see why we would want to get into the issue. . . . As long as it is a fully disclosed expense, which it would be through campaign finance reports and campaign disclosures, then the voters can judge whether it is appropriate.”

Everything’s fine… Move along… Nothing to see here…

(h/t dakine)

February 24th, 2008 at 05:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Sunday Mr. Deity Blogging

Lucy has some issues with Mr. Deity’s assignment of gender roles.


Is that an N64 controller?

February 24th, 2008 at 02:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging,Mr. Deity,Religion


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