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The Nation offers this simple analysis of the news this week that Sen. John McCain, Republican heir apparent may have had an improper relationship with a lobbyist with legislation before the Senate commerce committee:
If McCain had no relationship with the woman in question — telecommunications lobbyist Vicki Iseman — and was not in any way influenced by her, then he has been treated unfairly by The New York Times, which clearly has suggested that wrongdoing has occurred.
On the other hand, if McCain’s carefully-worded denials of impropriety are attempts to deceive the American people about his wrongdoing — not in his personal life but in his capacity as a senator who swore an oath to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office” — then he is and should be finished politically.
What is more telling of the Senator’s conduct is the assertion by his campaign that he will opt out of the public financing option his campaign entered in its near death experience last year. If the campaign spends above the limits of the public finance plan, then the repercussions are far worse than political failure. The Washington Post explains this one:
But McCain’s attempts to build up his campaign coffers before a general election contest appeared to be threatened by the stern warning yesterday from Federal Election Commission Chairman David M. Mason, a Republican. Mason notified McCain that the commission had not granted his Feb. 6 request to withdraw from the presidential public financing system.
The implications of that could be dramatic. Last year, when McCain’s campaign was starved for cash, he applied to join the financing system to gain access to millions of dollars in federal matching money. He was also permitted to use his FEC certification to bypass the time-consuming process of gathering signatures to get his name on the ballot in several states, including Ohio . . .
. . . If the FEC refuses McCain’s request to leave the system, his campaign could be bound by a potentially debilitating spending limit until he formally accepts his party’s nomination. His campaign has already spent $49 million, federal reports show. Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison.
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