Thursday, July 12, 2007

Irony alert: Johnny Mac violates campaign finance law?

You reap what you sow, Senator McCain. From the Old Gray Hag:
About 3 p.m. Tuesday, Senator John McCain ducked off the Senate floor, entered the Republican cloakroom and took out his mobile phone. Just hours after accepting the resignation of his two top campaign aides, he was making a conference call to his top fund-raisers to urge them to keep up the fight.

The call, however, may only have exacerbated an already tough week for Mr. McCain. Senate ethics rules expressly forbid lawmakers to engage in campaign activities inside Senate facilities. If Mr. McCain solicited campaign contributions on a call from government property, that would be a violation of federal criminal law as well.

There is no evidence that Mr. McCain has made a habit of making such calls or otherwise exploiting his office for political gain, and he is hardly the first lawmaker to call a donor from under the Capitol dome. But he made the call as he was in the spotlight because of the staff shake-up, sagging poll numbers and disappointing fund-raising of his Republican presidential primary campaign.

It was the kind of technical mistake that seasoned aides — like the ones his campaign is now letting go — are supposed to prevent.

Mr. McCain was well aware of the rules. Ten years ago he led Republican calls for an independent prosecutor to investigate accusations of violations of the same rules by Vice President Al Gore. Mr. McCain went on to make the episode a cornerstone of both his 2000 Republican primary campaign and his argument for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
Back then, the need for campaign finance reform was one of Mr. McCain’s favorite themes, and he often mocked Mr. Gore’s argument that there was “no controlling legal authority” forbidding his fund-raising calls from another federal property, the White House.

“The American people deserve a controlling ethical authority,” Mr. McCain used to repeat on the campaign trail, “as well as controlling legal authority.”

Johnny Mac and his boy Russ stepped all over the First Amendment, with an assist from Jorgé W. Bush and the Supremes, with that awful Campaign Finance Reform Act. How fitting that he is now running afoul of it.

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