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US Politics

McCain Hypocrisy / Borrowed against Possible Public Financing

Telling Thoughts: (I have been unwell with heavy influenza for the last 2 weeks – hope to be back writing shortly- my apologies) JH.

This article from the New York Times is repeated as a timely reminder of the fact that John McCain actually borrowed against the prospect of Public funding to finance his ailing Primary campaign.

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McCain Loan Complicates Financing of CampaignThe New York Times  

By LESLIE WAYNE

Published: February 22, 2008

A bank loan that Senator John McCain took out late in 2007 to keep his presidential campaign afloat is complicating his desire to withdraw from public financing for his primary effort.

The Federal Election Commission, in a letter it released on Thursday, said Mr. McCain could not withdraw from public financing until he had answered questions about a $4 million line of credit for borrowing that was secured, in part, in December by the promise of federal matching money.

Mr. McCain sent a letter to the commission on Feb. 7 saying he had decided to decline the matching money for his primary campaign. His request for public money, in which the government matches campaign contributions, was made last year as the campaign was running out of cash.

After his fortunes began to rise from his victory New Hampshire and campaign gifts increased, however, Mr. McCain decided against taking the public money. Taking it would have limited his spending between now and the Republican convention in September to $40 million.

Candidates not accepting public money have no limits on spending in the primaries.

For the general election, Mr. McCain has challenged Senator Barack Obama, the leading Democratic candidate, to abide by a promise made this year to use public financing for his general election if he is the nominee and if Mr. McCain does so, as well.

Mr. McCain’s decision to use private money through the rest of the primaries has been challenged by the election commission, which regulates campaign finance. Its chairman, David M. Mason, has questioned provisions in a loan agreement between the McCain campaign and the Fidelity and Trust Bank in Bethesda, Md.

A modification to the loan in December requires that if Mr. McCain fails to win the Republican nomination or place within 10 percentage points of the winner, he would be forced to “remain an active political candidate” and apply for public financing, even if he did not want to.

Practically, however, the commission will most likely not address the issue before Election Day. Because of a stalemate between the White House and Senate Democrats, it has just two of the four required commissioners, meaning that it cannot conduct business.

At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. McCain said about the loan: “We think it’s perfectly legal. One of our advisers is a former chairman of the F.E.C., and we are confident that it was an appropriate thing to do.”

Kenneth Gross, a lawyer in Washington who advises Democrats and Republicans on campaign finance, called the commission’s letter “a problem.”

“There is no chance that he is going to restrict his spending,” Mr. Gross said of Mr. McCain. “But without a commission, this situation cannot be cleared up. It is a bizarre situation.”

The $4 million line of credit carries an 8.5 percent interest rate. It also required Mr. McCain, 71, to obtain a $4 million life insurance policy. Around $3 million has been borrowed under the credit line.

On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is receiving help from a group in raising money from supporters who have given the maximum legal amount to her campaign and cannot give more.

The group, the American Leadership Project, a new so-called 527 committee, is about to start a television advertising effort in Ohio and Texas. Its 30-second advertisements portray Mrs. Clinton as a champion of the middle class and make thinly veiled swipes at Mr. Obama.

Original story New York Times 22/2/2008 link

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