Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Bush Doubletalk on Campaign Finance Reform

In a follow up to my last post, where I mentioned that Bush deliberately delayed an appointment to the FEC in order to insure that the FEC regulations implementing the BCRA were weakened, I looked it up to make sure I was correct. I was. See if you can reconcile these facts:

A. Bush just went to court to get a federal judge to force the FEC to ban campaign advertisements being bought by so-called 527 organizations.

B. Bush’s press secretary says that the President thought that he had already banned such advertisements when he signed the BCRA:

The President has condemned all of this kind of activity, and he should join us in doing the same and calling for an end to all of it. Apparently he was against soft money before he was for it. And the President thought he got rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms into law.

C. Bush in fact deliberately delayed the appointment of a pro-campaign finance reform member of the FEC, an appointment he promised to John McCain, in order to insure that the regulations that implemented his bill would be weakened to allow essentially unrestrained spending:


The FEC is writing regulations to implement the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and the current commissioners have approved several loopholes. Supporters of McCain’s proposed appointee, ethics lawyer Ellen L. Weintraub, say she would vote for stricter limitations.

A White House official said last night that Bush plans to appoint Weintraub this morning — less than 24 hours after the FEC finished the bulk of its work on the law. McCain called the timing cynical.

“The Bush administration has broken their word on an issue that has been of transcendent importance to me, and that’s hard to get over,” said McCain, who ran against Bush in the Republican primaries of 2000. “It will be harder for them to do business with the Senate, since a lot of it is done by handshake.”…

Even as the senator was voicing his anger, the FEC yesterday adopted a disputed regulation that McCain and his allies say epitomizes the kind of loophole that Weintraub might have prevented. McCain and groups such as Common Cause and the Center for Responsive Politics say the new regulation will let federal candidates control the spending of unlimited amounts of corporate, union and special interest “soft money” in the early stages of federal campaigns…

Terms of the July deal regarding Weintraub were spelled out in a White House e-mail, which McCain divulged and Bush aides confirmed. The e-mail said that if no disqualifying issues turned up during Weintraub’s background check, Bush would seat her using his recess appointment power.

Since then, the FEC has written most of the regulations needed to implement the campaign finance law, which took effect Nov. 6. The Democrat to be replaced by Weintraub, Karl J. Sandstrom, has joined three Republican commissioners on several controversial 4-2 rulings that weakened the law in the view of McCain and other sponsors.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. told McCain in a phone call Wednesday that Weintraub would not be seated in time for yesterday’s important FEC meeting.

McCain said the appointment is coming too late. “While the administration wanted to share in widespread public approval of campaign finance reform by having the president sign the legislation into law,” he said, “they are cooperating behind the scenes with opponents of the law in Congress and on the commission to weaken it as much as possible.”

Talk about wanting to have it both ways at once. Reminds me of Chris Rock’s line about a guy stealing your TV, then coming over and saying, “I heard you got robbed.”