Thursday, July 10, 2008

Campaign Donations

I have been hearing some people express surprise that John McCain raised $22 million in June, given the state of his campaign. But really, he's committed to taking public financing for the post-convention campaign so, if people don't max out their direct contributions now, when else would he benefit from their donations?

Although McCain's "public financing" games during the primary still largely escape notice in the mainstream media, there's a glimmer of attention being paid to how outside groups will (massively) augment McCain's campaign spending and anticipated "soft money" contributions.
When you combine McCain's individual war chest with his party's bankroll, it turns out the Republican nominee has about $90 million currently burning a hole in his pocket, while Obama and the DNC weigh in at a relatively paltry $47 million, or half as much. And even though McCain has agreed to an $84.1 spending limit by accepting public funds - a decision he likes to portray as a principled stand against the corrupting influence of money on politics - at least double that sum will be dropped on his behalf before Election Day thanks to loopholes in the law that allow outside groups to effectively skirt such limits with largely unregulated "soft money" contributions.

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Meanwhile, McCain campaign is stepping around federal spending limits by funneling cash through the state and national party machinery--and potentially benefiting from donations to a non-RNC organization that could boost his chances in key states. As the Wall Street Journal reported last Thursday, the Republican Governors' Association, a GOP group unrestrained by federal spending limits because it's designed to elect governors, is now "marketing itself as a home for contributions of unlimited size to help Sen. McCain."
This is defended as "the only way the Arizonan can stay competitive" with Obama's fund-raising from "his network of 1.5 (mostly small-sum) donors", but by the same token it was Obama's decision to reject public financing that enables him to compete with these fund-raising techniques - and you're deluding yourself if you think McCain would have stopped this third party activity had Obama accepted public funds.

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