DNC Wants Court to Force Action Against McCain on Public Money

Apr 13, 2008 1:34pm

ABC News’ Tahman Bradley Reports: The Democratic National Committee is set to file a complaint in federal court against the Federal Election Commission, saying the regulatory agency has failed to act on a request to investigate and take action against Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential-nominee-in-waiting, for reversing his decision to use public money in the general election.

In February, the DNC asked the FEC to look into whether the McCain campaign violated federal election law by using the promise of federal matching funds for loans and by exceeding the $50 million spending limit for the primaries. The FEC has been unable to make a quorum since the initial DNC request.

Even before the Democrats submitted their February complaint, the FEC mailed the McCain campaign a letter asking for an explanation of an agreement it entered into with Fidelity Bank and Trust Bank of Bethesda. Democrats say that agreement is proof the McCain team violated the law.

Ironically, Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, has signaled he may break his pledge to run a publicly financed general election campaign should he get the nomination – but he never formally requested public money for the primary as McCain did.

Sen. McCain’s request and approval for public financing came at a time when his campaign seemed to be on life support after a slow fundraising haul during the summer. Knowing that the Democratic nominee and outside groups would have a financial edge in the general election if he were forced to adhere to the spending limits requited in order to receive matching money, McCain now wants to opt out of the public system.

The complaint will be submitted on Monday, the DNC announced on a weekend press call.

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant issued a statement on Sunday calling the lawuit "total nonesense" filed for public relations purposes.

"Rather than attacking John McCain, the Democrats should explain Barack Obama’s elitist and condescending remarks about small town America, or his apparent willingness to break his word to the American people on taking public financing should he win his Party’s nomination." Conant said.

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