McCampaign Finance

April 19th, 2008at 12:42pm Posted by Eli

More from the John McCain, Champion Of Campaign Finance Reform file.  First, from Politico:

Facing the prospect of competing against a Democrat who is on track to shatter every fundraising record — and confronted by his own inability to rake in large bundles of cash — McCain and his key advisers have largely been forced into devising a three-pronged strategy that they hope can turn their general election weaknesses into strengths.

(…)

“It is true we’ll be outspent,” concedes [McCain adviser and big-time lobbyist Charlie] Black. “But between the RNC and McCain, we’ll raise enough money.”

Indeed, to help counter their money deficit, McCain strategists now suggest that the proper comparison should be between the combined assets of the campaign and the RNC and that of their opponent and the far less flush DNC.

“The McCain camp is funded jointly” is how one adviser describes it.

By taking federal funds — something they intend to do, campaign manager Rick Davis told a closed-door meeting of chiefs of staff on Capitol Hill last week — McCain will receive $84 million.

That money, McCain aides say, will be bolstered by the $20 million in coordinated funds that they can legally direct the RNC to spend on anything they want.

Further, they’ll rely on the committee-campaign joint Victory Fund run out of the RNC, which allows contributions of up to $28,500 per person — far more than the $2,300 donors can give to individual candidates.

The Victory dollars will go into the states and be used to hire staffers, who in some cases will serve as the de facto McCain aides.

Other elements of the campaign, such as those tasked with developing coalitions and lining up surrogates, will also be placed at the RNC to save on overhead.

“Those functions that can legally be done at either [the campaign or RNC], we’ll err on the side of doing them at the RNC,” Black says. “The whole thing is under one umbrella in the way we are budgeting.”

And from Bloomberg:

John McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, reported $405,409 in income last year and paid $118,660 in federal taxes, according to tax returns made public today. He gave $105,467 to charity, the records show.

His campaign didn’t release tax returns for his wife, Cindy, who is chairman of the Phoenix-based Hensley & Co., one of the largest beer distributors in the U.S.

“My wife and I, we have separate incomes, we have a prenuptial agreement, and her business is her business,” McCain said in an interview. “I have never been involved in it since before I ran for the Congress of the United States, so I just feel that she has a right to a separate tax return.”

(…)

Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the failure to release Cindy McCain’s returns shouldn’t fly with voters because transparency has been “a signature issue for John McCain,” and not releasing her information smacks of hypocrisy.

“He should just release the tax returns and make it a non- issue,” Sloan said.

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean also assailed McCain — ranked last fall by Roll Call newspaper as the ninth richest member of Congress — for not releasing his wife’s taxes and for making public only two years of returns. He said McCain was “releasing less information about his tax returns than any other candidate since Ronald Reagan,” continuing “a troubling pattern of thinking the rules don’t apply to him.”

No, neither of these campaign decisions is illegal (so far as I know).  But for a man who made such a big deal about campaign finance reform, who used it to rehabilitate his image after being one of the Keating Five, it sure does sound like McCain is pushing the envelope.  He’s opting into public financing for the general election, but still taking advantage of $20 million from the RNC, plus a “Victory Fund” which favors big-money donors.  He’s not releasing his much-wealthier wife’s tax returns, thus keeping his total financial status hidden.

And, of course, let us not forget that he is currently breaking the law with respect to his primary campaign, where he opted into public funding and then proceeded to blow past the spending limits by simply declaring that he had opted out – despite the FEC clearly stating the opposite.

McCain has become exactly the kind of sneaky, secretive, loophole-seeking candidate that he once claimed to oppose.

(h/t Stoller and Ari Rabin-Havt)

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


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