You’d think that in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal Sen. John McCain’s commitment to campaign finance reform would be stronger than ever. Well, not exactly, according to former TNT correspondent Ken Vogel, now writing for the Capitol Hill startup The Politico, who reports that McCain has been vacillating on his signature issue as he tries to thread the political needle of his presidential campaign.
Last session McCain co-sponsored a bill cracking down on 527 groups, but this session seemed to be backing away from it. Then all of a sudden, he’s sponsoring it again. And that’s not his only wavering.
This session, however, McCain has declined to support two other campaign finance measures that reformers consider priorities: one would expand the public financing system for presidential elections, and another would require grassroots organizations to disclose their funding and expenditures.
His lack of support for both worried campaign finance reformers who have considered him a champion of their cause.
McCain “has been supporting reform efforts for so long and has taken on the whole world when it comes to reform drives in Congress, so I’m convinced he truly believes in it,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist on campaign finance for Public Citizen.
“But it’s very unfortunate that when it comes around to his presidential bid he’s suddenly backing off, especially at such a critical moment. This is the year in which we’re actually going to get some sweeping lobbying and ethics reform legislation, and he’s not working with us on that,” Holman said, adding that McCain’s staff over the last few months had become unresponsive to entreaties to support campaign finance reforms.
[...] One campaign finance reformer who has supported McCain’s campaign finance efforts said his recent equivocation should be understood in the context of the campaign. The people whose support McCain needs don’t count campaign finance as among their top issues, the reformer said, adding “some of the people hate McCain-Feingold and he’s not going to run from it. I don’t think he could, but he won’t try to.”
“There’s going to be ongoing tension between his interest in campaign finance reform and the political reality that some of the people he’s trying to reach are not interested in that issue.”
Well, so much for the Straight Talk Express.