Thursday, May 08, 2008

A hidden scandal?

Lost in the palaver (love that word) of the Democratic nomination fight is a fascinating story about John McCain and how the current President is helping to make sure that he doesn't have a huge problem with the Federal Election Commission. You see, McCain initially accepted public financing, and used that financing to get himself a loan. Then, he decided he wasn't going to accept public financing any more, but kept the loan anyway.

Sounds fishy, to be sure. The FEC Chairman, David Mason, notified McCain that the loan and subsequent "opt out" might be illegal. So, in keeping with the current President's history, he fired Mason. Now in an editorial from the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/opinion/08thu4.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), the question is raised as to whether the replacement for Mason will be a yes-man for the Republicans and make this little "problem" of McCain's go away.

Look, I don't know a lot about election law. But I know when something smells like a cover-up. And I am confident that once attention is focused on McCain, his "straight-talk" sham is going to fall apart like a house of cards.

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Crippled Election Commission
Published: May 8, 2008

The White House is removing a member of the Federal Election Commission for standing up for clean elections, while trying to install another member whose specialty is keeping eligible voters from casting ballots. The Senate, which must confirm nominees, should insist that President Bush appoint commissioners with a proven record of supporting voting rights and fair elections.

Mr. Bush is purging the current F.E.C. chairman, David Mason, presumably because he was responsible enough to challenge the funding machinations of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign. Mr. Mason shocked his fellow Republicans by notifying Mr. McCain that he might run afoul of the law by switching from public funding to private donations once he secured the party’s nomination.

The White House proposes to replace Mr. Mason with Donald McGahn, a Republican warhorse. F.E.C. commissioners are expected to be aligned with a party — one of the new Democratic nominees is a staff member of Senator Charles Schumer of New York — but Mr. McGahn has a particularly partisan background. He was the party’s Congressional campaign counsel — and the ethics lawyer for Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader from Texas who left office under multiple clouds.

The six-member commission, which now has four vacancies, has been rendered inoperable. If it is to perform its role as referee of national elections, it urgently needs a full complement — and it needs commissioners with the sort of professionalism displayed by Mr. Mason.

Senate Democrats should push for someone more suitable than Mr. McGahn, and they should continue to oppose Hans von Spakovsky, a terrible nominee with a record as a Justice Department lawyer of aggressive partisanship and opposition to minority voting rights.

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