A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by Amy Weiss
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Tuesday it will file a lawsuit in federal court next week to require the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) to investigate Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) campaign for president since the DNC believes McCain illegally withdrew from a public financing agreement.
In its statement, the DNC said McCain illegally withdrew from an agreement with the FEC that holds him to spending limits and regulations. This agreement allowed McCain to receive matching funds, where any contributions up to $250 are matched from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. Any dissolution of the agreement requires FEC consent.
The FEC currently does not have enough members to constitute a quorum but Chairman David Mason, a Republican, issued a letter to the campaign notifying it that it cannot withdraw without FEC approval. Mason also suggested the possibility that McCain has already benefited from matching funds, which is the position of the DNC, and may not qualify for FEC approval of contract withdrawal. In May, President Bush withdrew Mason's nomination to another term on the FEC, adding another questionable political firing under his belt.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, DNC legal counsel Joe Sandler explained that if the FEC did have enough members to meet and discuss McCain's request to withdraw from public financing, it should not find in McCain's favor. Sandler says a candidate cannot withdraw from the program if he or she has received funds or benefited from the FEC approval to receive public funds. The DNC alleges McCain did the latter, essentially using the rights to matching funds as collateral for a bank loan and thus benefited from them, eliminating his ability to withdraw. Sandler says McCain is not playing by the rules he helped create through the McCain-Feingold Law.
Sandler also indicated that he expects the nominations of five FEC commissioners to be confirmed soon, giving the Commission a functional six members, which would allow them to proceed. Sandler also expects a case involving a presidential candidate and the possible violation of the law would be a very high priority of the new commission. He also says however, that finding whether or not McCain's campaign violated federal election law "would require the FEC to act a lot more expeditiously" than it has in the past.
The DNC originally filed its suit in April but the court insisted they wait 120 days after the original complaint to the FEC had been made. That complaint was submitted in February and the DNC will file the suit on June 24, per court instructions.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT