Mr. Obama has said he "strongly supported public financing" and pledged to take federal funds for the fall, thereby limiting his spending to roughly $84 million. Now convinced he can raise more than $84 million, he reversed course last week, ditching the federal money and its limits. But by discarding his earlier pledge so easily, he raises doubts about whether his word can be trusted.
In the end, I really don’t mind seeing Karl Rove in the headlines every day. His assertions always border on the absurd and, more than anything, he serves as a constant reminder of the divisive politics of the past, the promise and change that Barack Obama could bring, and the increasingly blurry differences between John McCain and George Bush. Turd Blossom, indeed.
The Democratic National Committee has filed suit today in federal district court in Washington, D.C. to force the Federal Election Commission to investigate John McCain's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the FEC's matching funds program for the primary election despite his already having used program to benefit his campaign financially.
Let's review: John McCain signed a binding agreement with the FEC back in August 2007 to accept spending limits for the primary and to abide by the conditions of receiving matching funds. To get out of that agreement, FEC Chairman David Mason explained in February, the FEC must grant permission, and for stating this obvious legal truth David Mason is being forced out of the FEC. What's more, based on past FEC rulings McCain would not have been allowed to withdraw from the matching funds program, because in December he pledged to use his matching funds as collateral for a private loan to keep his campaign afloat.
So, four months ago the DNC filed a complaint with the FEC to investigate all this, but because there's been no quorum the Commission couldn't actually do anything. (Four votes are needed to authorize an investigation, and only two of the six seats are currently filled.) But under the law, if the FEC doesn't act within 120 days, you get to sue in district court to force the FEC to act. What the lawsuit asks the Court to do is issue an order saying, (a) the FEC must act to investigate the complaint within 30 days, and (b) if it doesn't (or can't), the DNC should be able to sue McCain directly to force his compliance with the law. Moreover, the Commission is likely to be back in business before month's end. This lawsuit will place this investigation atop its agenda.
Bottom line: John McCain played fast and loose with the law. He used the public financing system when it was convenient and helpful to his campaign, ignored it once the money started flowing again, and now takes a hands-off approach to the millions in the 527 money to be spent on his behalf. It's time for the shenanigans to stop, and this lawsuit will help shine a light on just how unprincipled this so-called "maverick" is.