McCain & Co. Find New Ways to Circumvent Campaign Finance Laws McCain Wrote

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


I said yesterday that running for president makes messes of good men (and women). And I meant it:

…a Republican Party fund aimed at electing governors has started marketing itself as a home for contributions of unlimited size to help Sen. McCain. His 2002 campaign law limits donations to presidential races to try to curtail the influence of wealth.

The Republican Governors Association isn’t subject to those limits, and has long gathered up large donations from individuals and companies. Now it is telling donors it can use their contributions to benefit Sen. McCain in some key battleground states.

That makes the group “the best way to help McCain,” says donor David Hanna, who gave $25,000 — more than 10 times the legal cap of $2,300 for direct gifts to presidential candidates.

The campaign finance system isn’t perfect, and a donor with deep pockets can find a way to funnel money into the system:

The $2,300 limit on contributions to presidential candidates, set by the so-called McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, is the best-known cap on political donations, but it doesn’t apply to all types of fund raising. National parties can accept up to $28,500 and state parties can collect up to $10,000 to spend on federal campaigns. Altogether, individuals can give $108,000 to federal campaigns within each two-year election cycle.

Donors with deep pockets also can avoid limits completely by contributing to groups called 527 organizations, after a provision in the tax code. Those groups can collect uncapped donations from individuals — and also collect from companies and unions, which have been prohibited from giving to parties or candidates since 2002.

The RGA’s executive director, Nick Ayers, says, “We are the equalizer in this campaign.” I smell a FEC complaint from the DNC. Another one, I mean.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate