McCain in Campaign Finance Trouble

Some thing’s fishy in the McCain campaign. Washington Post:

McCain had already taken a $3 million bank loan in November to keep his campaign afloat, and he sought from the same bank $1 million more shortly before this month’s Super Tuesday contests, this time pledging incoming but unprocessed contributions as collateral. He never used the funds of the most recent loan, because his win in the South Carolina primary helped him raise enough money to compete in Florida, his campaign aides said last night.

The loans, revealed yesterday in documents a McCain attorney filed with the Federal Election Commission, offer fresh details about how the Republican senator from Arizona scrambled to secure money as his shoestring campaign navigated a rapid-fire succession of primary contests.

The unorthodox lending terms also raised fresh questions from McCain’s critics about his ability to repeatedly draw money from the Maryland-based Fidelity & Trust Bank. Campaign finance lawyers speculated whether McCain may have inadvertently committed himself to entering the public financing system for the remainder of the primary season by holding out the prospect of taking public matching funds in exchange for the $1 million loan in December.

Under FEC rules, a candidate who uses a certification for federal funds as collateral for a loan is obligated to remain within the public financing system. “We very carefully did not do that,” Potter said.

Cleta Mitchell, a veteran campaign finance lawyer and a McCain critic, said she has never encountered a similar agreement.

“They’ve clearly got a sweetheart deal with this bank,” Mitchell said. “This bank is just a cash register for them.”

I guess being a “maverick” means you don’t have to follow normal procedures to get loans or live up to requires to take federal matching funs when you’re running for President. Whatever happened with this loan, you can be sure that McCain signed off on how it moved forward.

Let’s not forget that McCain is already in political hot water over campaign finance. Despite the fact that his campaign is attacking the Obama campaign over public financing, McCain is backing away from his pledge to take public financing if he’s the nominee. Steve Benen reminds us:

McCain apparently hopes we’re not paying attention to what his campaign said as recently as a few days ago: “Mr. McCain’s advisers said that the candidate, despite his signature legislative efforts to restrict the money spent on political campaigns, would not accept public financing and spending limits for this year’s general campaign.” Indeed, for those keeping score at home, McCain has been for and against public primary funds, and for and against public general-election funds — all within the span of a single year.

It’s been clear for a long time that McCain will say and do anything to win this election. Earlier this week se sold what little principles he had down the river to appeal to the rapid, pro-torture Republican base. Expect similar actions aimed to keep him in lock-step with the Republican Party throughout the campaign. And dodgy campaign finance work is no different.

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