Conservative Group Asks the Senate's Chief 'Campaign Finance Reformer' to Clearly Announce Whether He Plans to Abide by the Limitations of the Presidential Public Financing System

January 25, 2007


Conservative Group Asks the Senate's Chief 'Campaign Finance Reformer' to Clearly Announce Whether He Plans to Abide by the Limitations of the Presidential Public Financing System

ALEXANDRIA, VA – In a letter sent today to Senator John McCain, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) asked for a swift and direct answer to the question of whether he will abide by the limitations of the presidential public financing system during his bid for the GOP Presidential nomination.

"As a frontrunner for the 2008 Republican nomination for President, will you campaign within the presidential public financing system or is it your intention to abandon the limitations of that system in favor of more campaign dollars?" the letter, from CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella, asks.

"Senator McCain has made so-called 'clean elections' a staple of his political career," said Mazzella.  "Despite numerous First Amendment concerns, he's unapologetically championed strict restrictions on political speech toward that stated end.  Yet, now that Senator McCain is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, he continues to evade the direct question of whether he will abide by the very campaign finance limitations he advocates," Mazzella continued.

Specifically, appearing November 19, 2006 on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator McCain dodged the issue: 

George Stephanopoulos"As you look to a Presidential campaign, you've been a great advocate for campaign finance reform.  If you choose to run, will you stay inside the public financing system or go around it?"  

Senator John McCain"I don't think – it depends, one, on what other candidates might do..." 

As recently as the 2004 elections – the most expensive presidential campaign in the nation's history – Senator McCain maintained "absolutely" his conviction favoring public campaign financing.  In November 2003, the Senator even sponsored legislation to broaden the presidential public financing system, stating at the time that it was his hope "that a bill can be enacted to take effect for the 2008 presidential election."   

"Senator McCain has always portrayed himself as a man of principle," said Mazzella.  "However, the Senator's evasion of a direct question regarding the presidential public financing has left Americans across the country wondering whether the 'Straight-Talk Express' has taken a U-Turn as the competition for presidential campaign dollars heats up.

"As the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Senator McCain owes the American people a direct answer to this very simple question," said Mazzella.  "We don't think it's too much to ask of the Senate's chief 'campaign finance reformer' to clearly make his intentions known on this issue regardless of 'what other candidates might do,'" Mazzella concluded.

The Center for Individual Freedom ( is a constitutional and free-market advocacy organization based in Alexandria, Virginia.  With more than 250,000 supporters and activists nationwide, CFIF has been a consistent advocate for preserving the free speech and association rights of all Americans.  CFIF was a plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case McConnell v. FEC, which challenged the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly referred to as "McCain-Feingold."   More recently, CFIF won an important First Amendment victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which ruled that Louisiana's campaign finance law does not restrict or regulate independent political issue advertising.


[Posted January 25, 2007
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