More Straight Talk: John McCain Breaks Two Pledges At Once
by Josh Orton, Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 12:38:17 PM EDT
Hi all - thanks to the MyDD crew for giving me the opportunity to do some work here. I'm one of the organizers of Netroots Nation, but I've been a MyDD reader and fan all the way back to 2004 - when I started producing the Majority Report with Sam Seder and Janeane Garofalo.
The New York Times just posted a blockbuster online (set to print Sunday) that exposes two more broken McCain pledges: to not to fly on corporate jets, and to not exploit his wife's wealth for campaign advantage.
First, the campaign finance side - by exploiting a loophole left open by the non-functioning FEC, McCain flew for months on a corporate jet owned by his wife's company, but only paid a fraction of the cost:
Mr. McCain's campaign paid a total of $241,149 for the use of that plane from last August through February, records show. That amount is approximately the cost of chartering a similar jet for a month or two, according to industry estimates.
The senator was able to fly so inexpensively because the law specifically exempts aircraft owned by a candidate or his family or by a privately held company they control. The Federal Election Commission adopted rules in December to close the loophole -- rules that would have required substantial payments by candidates using family-owned planes -- but the agency soon lost the requisite number of commissioners needed to complete the rule making.
Because that exemption remains, Mr. McCain's campaign was able to use his wife's corporate plane like a charter jet while paying first-class rates, several campaign finance experts said. Several of those experts, however, added that his campaign's actions, while keeping with the letter of law, did not reflect its spirit.
Not only is he exploiting a loophole to save millions, he's actually going back on an earlier pledge. In early 2007, McCain's campaign swore off the practice of using corporate jets:
When McCain first ran for president in 2000, he defrayed some travel costs by flying on corporate jets. Under Federal Election Commission rules at the time, candidates could bill their campaign accounts the cost of a first-class ticket for a corporate flight.
But now, his campaign has said, McCain is abiding by a pledge to stay off corporate jets. In the past year, that has meant spending more than $1.1 million on charter flights, according to filings by his leadership committee.
Now McCain could claim that the problem is mitigated here because the corporation is his wife's, and technically the letter of the law was followed. I don't buy that, since one of the underlying principles of campaign finance regulation is to gain back the public's trust and reduce even the "appearance of corruption."
But even then, McCain is still going back on his word, since, as the Times story notes:
Last summer, just before starting to use his wife's plane, Mr. McCain was quoted in a newspaper report as saying that he did not plan to tap her substantial wealth to keep his bid for the Republican presidential nomination going.
"I have never thought about it," Mr. McCain was quoted by The Arizona Republic as saying at a July appearance. "I would never do such a thing, so I wouldn't know what the legalities are."
Not only did he think about it, he did it.
Can Mrs. McCain please release her full tax returns now?