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March 21, 2008

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So does this mean that McCain will have to stop campaigning? Or will it be another IOKIFYAR?

PS: while I was posting this, Al Giordano retracted his story

Good for him.

So he promised to use his public campaign financing to pay a loan for early campaign expenses? That seems inappropriate. Probably not rising to the level of something that could be used to hurt him in the campaign though? (Alas.)

Modesto -- As I understand it, McCain offered the public financing as collateral for a loan, but then said he wasn't bound to remain in the public financing system. The FEC (and others) are looking askance at this interpretation.

Oh, and if he's found guilty it is a jailable offense.

TMK: I actually think it is pretty serious. (See the links to my two previous stories.) Basically, you are supposed to either get public funding and abide by the caps, or not get it and spend whatever you want. You do not get to spend it and blow through the caps.

Taking out a loan using the public money as collateral is out, according to the FEC: if you took out a loan for the amount you'd be getting using the public money as collateral, used that loan to win enough that you could pay it back w/o having actually taken the public money from the government, and then said: ha ha, I never actually used my public funds! -- that would be against the law.

What McCain did was to say: I'm not using my actual eligibility for public money as collateral; I am using the fact that having been certified to get public funding now, I would get certified again if I tried, and by the way, if I lose, I will stay in the race just long enough to get the public money and pay off the loan.

Is it illegal? I have no idea. Ianal, etc. Is it flamingly out of keeping with the spirit of the laws McCain claims to support? Absolutely.

I mean, consider the fact that in the loan document, he promised to remain in the race, pretending to be a serious candidate, just long enough to collect our money and give it to the bank.

You would think that Iowans (and New Hampshirites) would know by now to ask for cash up front.

he promised to remain in the race, pretending to be a serious candidate, just long enough to collect our money and give it to the bank.

seems odd that nobody in the R primaries bothered to make a campaign issue out of that.

makes me wonder if such statements are S.O.P. for candidates... ?

farmgirl: Oh, and if he's found guilty it is a jailable offense.

Can't imagine the case going to trial, then. A Republican? Going to jail? For the crime of getting money to campaign against Democrats? Not with the modern, streamlined, DoJ on the case. ...particularly not when you look at the other options if McCain does have to drop out of the race.

I will prepare and eat a dish of tofu crow if anything happens to McCain over this that requires him to drop out of the race.

@cleek: Nope. This is a first as far as I know.

Also, the DNC's point is a perfectly good one as well: he used his publicly financed status to get on the ballot in a big state the easy way (no signature-gathering, etc., just the blessing of the Board of Elections), and that's worth several hundred thousand dollars of benefits right there. I.e., he has received a substantial in-kind contribution from public financing, and is therefore subject to the limits.

I don't believe a guilty verdict on this charge *requires* a trip to jail, as hefty fines are also an option, but it is a possibility.

As you say about the tofu crow, though...

Hey, did I ever see that on the menu at one of those Buddhist Chinese restaurants? Maybe with a mushroom-bean sauce?

Not to indulge too deeply in schadenfreude (quick quiz: how deep is too deep?), but maybe we can hope to see a moving display of that famous McCain temper.
Some sticky wicket.
But what are the options?

hey, I'm still holding out hope for a psychotic break on live TV by the President... but I'll take McCain's temper too.

"Oh, and if he's found guilty it is a jailable offense."

Would you have a cite as regards that?

It's true that the FEC has the power to issue contempt citations, which can be enforced by jail. As a rule, conciliation agreements are signed within the framework of civil law and civil penalties.

Usually when criminal charges are involved in an election case, they stem from connected perjury or conspiracy charges, in my limited experience/knowledge. (Example.)

But IANAL. Do you have any links about anyone ever being jailed for a violation of the FEC Act Laws, or a cite to which legal provision you have in mind, that I could read about?

That is, specifically that the candidate goes to jail, and for violation of FEC law, not ancillary charges pertaining to a FECA violation. I'm just curious if this has happened; I certainly could have missed a bunch of cases.

Isn't there some kind of mulligan for getting accused under an Act that's named after you or something? No?

Sure: you can declare that that wasn't the author's intent...

I don't think McCain really wants to wear a spending cap.

Sure: you can declare that that wasn't the author's intent...
I don't think McCain really wants to wear a spending cap.
Brilliant! Crisis resolved. Next story, please.

Hmm.
FEC. FECA.. FECALaw?
I don’t need (nor expect) to see him go to jail. I only want to see him have a prime-time temper tantrum.
It’d be a fine-line balancing act; enough to please his partisans, not so much as to alienate his ‘inclined’.
It’s unlikely to lose him votes on account of inconsistency, given his present so-far-successful record of switchbacks.

Felix, the thing that amuses me is that if only the US had electoral law that was applied without fear or favor to anyone who broke the rules about campaign financing, it looks as if McCain would have to drop out of the race, which - as I understand it's way too late to nominate someone new - would leave the Republican party stuck with their bunch of no-hopers again.

Given that this is the US, and that this is the presumptive Republican candidate - well, I was looking up recipes for "tofu crow" out of interest: I do not expect to have to make use of them.

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