In actions and words, McCain should support critical campaign finance reforms

Common Cause on Thursday urged Sen. John McCain to (R-AZ), the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and reform advocate, to support critical campaign finance reforms, “both in actions and in words,” including reform of the presidential public financing system.

Noting that McCain has long championed reforms to the nation’s campaign finance laws, including as a key sponsor to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that banned soft money, Common Cause President Bob Edgar wrote in a letter to McCain: “As a presidential candidate, however, you have set aside the reform mantle and declined to take a public stand on the most pressing issues concerning how America pays for its elections, the climate of corruption created by Washington’s reliance on special-interest money and the impact that has on our democracy.”

The letter notes that Sen. McCain introduced legislation in 2003 to reform and preserve the presidential finance system, but that he has since withdrawn his sponsorship. The letter urges him to reconsider that decision and once again support the bill in the Senate, S. 2412.

Common Cause also said it was concerned that some of Sen. McCain’s recent actions in regard to public funding in the presidential primaries “may undermine respect for the federal campaign finance laws, especially the presidential public financing system.” Noting that Sen. McCain last summer signed a binding agreement with the FEC to opt into the presidential public finance system, Edgar wrote in the letter: “it is clear to us that you need an FEC vote to allow you to withdraw.”

“Common Cause is not prejudging the legal ins and outs of whether your campaign can still withdraw from the system after using the prospect of public matching funds as an active ingredient in a private $4 million loan agreement and to secure free ballot access in several states,” Edgar wrote. “However, we feel it is vital that you respect the role of the FEC in making this decision.”

On Wednesday, Common Cause called on Sen. McCain, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), to use their influence as top presidential candidates and prominent senators to help break the deadlock in the US Senate over Federal Election Commission (FEC) nominees so the FEC can have a quorum and enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws during this critical election.

“Clearly, the public can not have faith in the integrity of federal elections until it has faith in the body responsible for enforcing the nation’s campaign finance laws,” Edgar wrote in that letter.

Click here to read the full letter to Sen. McCain.

Click here to read the letter to all three presidential candidates about breaking the deadlock over FEC nominees.

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