(Markos will be on Sam Seder’s show on Air America at 3:15 ET/12:15 PT talking about the FEC complaint against McCain. You can listen here — jh)
Yesterday, Jane went to the FEC to file a complaint against John McCain for campaign finance law violations. If you are interested in signing on to the complaint, you can read it and add your name to the growing list here.
We had great participation in the McCain campaign finance quote contest — with 24 quote entries directly on point. The winner of this contest will receive a copy of John Anderson’s "Follow the Money." I have to say, up front, that I’m leaning toward McCain’s quote from entry number 22:
From bemar: "The purpose of the presidential public financing system is to allow candidates to run competitive races for the presidency without becoming dependent on or obligated to campaign donors. That purpose is undermined when a candidate opts out of the system to raise and spend large amounts of private money for a primary or general election race. Such candidates should not be able to reject public financing and then get the system’s benefits when it suits their tactical advantage. A candidate should have to opt in or out of the system for the whole election."
But that’s just me. It is a really tough call because there are a lot of great ones here. Huge thank you to everyone who participated! We’ll be using these for months to come, I can promise you that.
Which ones do you guys think are best? Give me your top two votes in the comments below, and we’ll take everyone’s opinion into account as we pick the winner! For a man who is brazenly thumbing his nose at the FEC and the campaign finance laws, McCain has sanctimony and gall to spare. Wait until you read these…
1) From moeman: “I always have to do what I know is right … [A]t the end of the day, I hope that I will be respected.”
2) From swag: McCain explaining to Sean Hannity why he pushed McCain-Feingold: “Because I saw in Washington million-dollar checks and hundreds-of-thousands-dollar checks in the form of, quote, “soft money,” that were contributed at the time legislation was being framed or passed. And I saw the influence of special interests. I led the investigation against Abramoff. We ended up with members of Congress in federal prison.”
3) From dosido: A: I don’t believe in public financing because I don’t think my tax dollars should be used to fund a person’s campaign that I philosophically disagree with… I think soft money is the primary evil. I believe that there’s going to come a time when people will say ‘this system is broken.’… It’s now legal in America for a Chinese Army-owned corporation with a subsidiary in the U.S. to give unlimited amounts of money to an American campaign. (Source: Joint interview with Bradley & McCain Dec 16, 1999)
4) From cobernicus: Americans deserve a political finance system that is free from the taint of corruption and the undue influence of special interests.
5) From nonplussed: Q: You’re not popular in the Senate. A: No, because I’ve taken on the iron triangle: special interests, money and legislation, which we’ve been gridlocked by in Washington, DC. We’ve taken the government away from the people. Young people are being turned off in droves. I’ve been involved [with the] lobbying ban, gift ban, line-item veto. I’ve attacked pork barrel spending and wasteful spending, which is now worse than it’s ever been, and I didn’t make a lot of friends, because I point out these spendings. And I’ll fight for reform until the last breath I draw so that we can get the American people back connected with their government. I’m trying to change this party, to bring it into the 21st century as a reform party in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt.
6) From IrishJim: Q: What about Congressional resistance to Campaign Reform? A: You’re looking at two people who have had this commitment for many, many years. And obviously it doesn’t inspire a broad-based support in some areas, in some places, but I will remain committed until my last breath.
7) From cobernicus: One accomplishment of BCRA is to ensure that serious and intentional violations of the federal election laws result in more than mere “cost of doing business” minor fines, as has been the case recently. I hope that you, too, agree that intentional violations of federal laws designed to protect our democracy from corruption should be vigorously enforced. However, it remains the case that the only persons who can incur criminal penalties are those who “knowingly and willfully” violate the law. 2 U.S.C. 437g (d). As you surely know, BCRA did not change the longstanding requirement that criminal prosecution be reserved only for those who commit a violation knowing that what they are doing is illegal, and proceed nonetheless. Letter to Marc Racicot. March 6, 2003. (emphasis added)
8) From barbara: Mr. President, partisanship has encroached upon nearly every major decision the FEC’s six commissioners make. These partisan standoffs have stopped the FEC from enforcing actions against politicians and special interest groups, even when the FEC’s general counsel has recommended that such enforcement proceed. FEC votes have been politicized to the point where commissioners of both parties have banded together to reject their staff’s enforcement recommendations to serve the special interests of both parties.
9) From nonplussed: Real campaign finance reform will not cure all public cynicism about modern politics. Nor will it completely free politics from influence peddling or the appearance of it. (emphasis added)
10) From angie: ”I’ve taken on the iron triangle: special interests, campaign finance and lobbying,” he said in mid-February. A few weeks earlier, his definition was formulated slightly differently: ”The establishment obviously is in a state of extreme distress, if not panic, because they know I have taken on the iron triangle of money, lobbyists and legislation.” (emphasis added)
11) From JimWhite: The time has come to end the FEC’s stranglehold on our nation’s campaign finance laws and replace it with a real enforcement agency.
12) From JimWhite: I believe the FEC needs to do what is right, which is to ensure that both the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 are properly interpreted and enforced.
13) From rosalind: “Mr. President, with the establishment of this new Federal Election Administration to replace the FEC as a more effective enforcement agency, the campaign finance laws will now finally be taken seriously by candidates, parties, donors, and the public. Once this new agency is set up, the regulated community will comply with campaign finance laws because those laws can no longer be violated without punishment.”
14) From angie: “Some will argue that the First Amendment of the Constitution renders unlawful any restrictions on the right of anyone to raise unlimited amounts of money for political campaigns. Mr. President, which drafter of the Constitution believed or anticipated that the First Amendment would be exercised in political campaigns by the relatively few at the expense of the many?”
15) From dosido: "It’s not a problem with law. It’s a problem with the FEC who will not enforce the law."
16) From dmac: “We have squandered the public trust. We have placed our personal and partisan interest before the national interest, earning the public’s contempt for our poll-driven policies, our phony posturing, the lies we call spin and the damage control we substitute for progress. And we defend a campaign finance system that is nothing less than an elaborate influence-peddling scheme in which both parties conspire to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder,” McCain said. Source: CNN AllPolitics Jun 30, 1999
17) From dmac: Q: Some say McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform is an assault on free speech. When you see soft money that’s now banned from going to the parties instead going to these 527s, which are even less accountable than the parties were, can you honestly say that McCain-Feingold is working? A: We’ve strengthened the parties. There’s millions more small donors. We have taken soft money, which was rampant in Washington, out of the game. The 527s are a violation of the 1974 law. The 527s are clearly illegal. It’s not a problem with law. It’s a problem with the FEC who will not enforce the law. So, yeah, we made significant progress, absolutely, and I’m proud of a lot of the results of this. I lived in the environment where a powerful committee chairman would call and say, ”I need a check for seven figures from you, and by the way, your bill is up before my committee next week.” That was routine operation in Washington, and we’re still seeing manifestations of this kind of corruption. Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 ”Choosing the President” interviews Apr 2, 2007
18) From dmac: Q: Do you support a complete public funding of campaigns? A: I don’t believe in public financing because I don’t think my tax dollars should be used to fund a person’s campaign that I philosophically disagree with… I think soft money is the primary evil. I believe that there’s going to come a time when people will say ‘this system is broken.’… It’s now legal in America for a Chinese Army-owned corporation with a subsidiary in the U.S. to give unlimited amounts of money to an American campaign. Source: Joint interview with Bradley & McCain Dec 16, 1999
19) From JamesJr54: “If you really want to set a new tone here, you’ve got to reduce the overriding influence of the big-money special interests here in Washington,” McCain told CBS’ The Early Show on the day in January 2001 he introduced the bill.
20) From Peterr (via Howie): McCain has repeatedly sought restrictions on lobbyists and campaign donations, saying they create the appearance of corruption. “It is no coincidence that the most influential lobbyists with the greatest access in the nation’s Capitol are also the most prolific political fundraisers,” McCain says on his campaign website.
21) From dmac: Ellen Weintraub, FEC co-chair, argued against changing the laws mid-campaign, for the sake of fairness. But John McCain, the Arizona senator who co-sponsored the 2002 law banning unlimited donations to political parties, condemned the FEC decision as ”legally unsupportable” and a ”travesty”. ”They would have the FEC continue to ignore the central legal question before the FEC what groups qualify under existing law as federal political committees,” said Mr McCain, a Republican.
22) From bemar: The purpose of the presidential public financing system is to allow candidates to run competitive races for the presidency without becoming dependent on or obligated to campaign donors. That purpose is undermined when a candidate opts out of the system to raise and spend large amounts of private money for a primary or general election race. Such candidates should not be able to reject public financing and then get the system’s benefits when it suits their tactical advantage. A candidate should have to opt in or out of the system for the whole election.
23) From dmac: ”Mr McCain has vowed to crack down on them, with ”additional legislation if necessary”, and overhaul the FEC, which he calls ”enablers of violations of the law”. ”
24) From dmac: ”Mr McCain said: ”We think it’s perfectly legal. One of our advisers is a former chairman of the FEC, and we are confident that it was an appropriate thing to do.”