McCain may violate own campaign finance law

Brian Beutler
Published: Thursday August 17, 2006

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A private fundraiser set to feature an appearance by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) may yet violate certain provisions of McCain's own Campaign Finance Reform Act, RAW STORY has learned.

The controversy, as described two days ago by the website Senate Majority Project, surrounds the language used in the invitation materials. The invitation, for a fundraiser later tonight for Adjutant General Stanhope Spears, does not itself stipulate a ceiling on donations, as McCain-Feingold suggests it should. It does, however, suggest a minimum donation of $200 per guest.

The RSVP card, sent separately, reads as follows:

“Contributions to Spears for Adjutant General are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. The solicitation of funds is being made only by Spears for Adjutant General. We are honored to have Senator McCain as our Special Guest for this event. In accordance with federal law, Senator McCain is not soliciting individual contributions in excess of $2,100 per person, nor is he soliciting corporate, labor union, or foreign national contributions. South Carolina state law allows campaign contributions of up to $3,500 per election cycle. Registered lobbyists please disregard.”

However, experts say that, despite the legal donation limit of $3,500 in South Carolina, if the Spears campaign (Spears for Adjutant General) accepts donations over the federal limit of $2,100 at this event, McCain will still be in violation of the campaign finance reform law that he spearheaded.

According to one campaign finance expert, “If [McCain’s] name is going to be used, they can not be accepting corporate or individual donations over the federal limit.”

According to the Mitch Willoughby, an attorney who works with the Spears Campaign, Spears must disclose donations quarterly, but, he added, “I don’t know if there’s a requirement on that form that the name of the event be stipulated. I believe there is a date required, so it should be possible to track all donations that come to the campaign today, but not all of those donations will necessarily have come from the event.”

McCain’s year 2000 presidential ambitions, many analysts agree, ended in South Carolina after negative advertising by the Bush campaign caused him to lose the Republican primary there. His office could not be reached for comment at press time.