FEC says McCain can't drop out of public financing
Before John McCain became the Republican front runner, he signed up for public campaign financing. Now, he wants to out of the program.
Candidates are allowed to quit, provided they haven't already accepted public money.
The thing is, McCain seems to have used the prospect of public money to secure private funding:
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - The government's top campaign finance regulator says John McCain can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign.
Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason, in a letter to McCain this week, said the all-but-certain Republican nominee needs to assure the commission that he did not use the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November.
In plain English, McCain got the loan by promising a publicly-funded bailout, if anything went wrong. The FEC is not amused.
McCain opted for public financing when his campaign was struggling last summer. Then, when his electoral fortunes rebounded, he told the FEC he wanted out again.
Rick Hansen of the Election Law blog writes, "Meanwhile, as Marc Schmitt has documented (see here, here, and here), McCain, in applying for a campaign loan, apparently promised to remain a candidate and opt back in to the system in the event his campaign faltered again."
McCain didn't get the public money in his pocket, but he borrowed against the promise of public money. In the eyes of the FEC, benefiting from the prospect of public money may be tantamount to taking the cash.
McCain could be in big trouble if the FEC won't release him from the program. Public financing imposes strict spending and fund raising limits. McCain has already burned through about $46 million, betting on his ability to raise still more money from private donors.
What a smarmy sleazeball. The McCain of McCain Feingold can't even make it to through the primary without embroiling himself in shady private financing schemes.