Democrats Seek FEC Probe of McCain

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Money may make the world go around, but it also keeps a political campaign rolling. But when you are running for the office of President of the United States, you must also follow certain laws regarding money and fund-raising.

The Democratic National Committee said Monday it would ask the Federal Election Commission to investigate if Sen. John McCain would break the law by not participating in the primary election's public finance system.

McCain, the Republican party front-runner, decided to not participate in public financing. That way his campaign could avoid set spending limits between now and the party's national convention in September.

The commission notified McCain last week that he can only withdraw from public financing if he answers questions about a campaign loan. It is unlikely approval from the FEC would come anytime soon, since the panel has four vacancies and according to set rules, must have the necessary quorum.

"John McCain poses as a reformer but seems to think reforms apply to everyone but him," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Sunday.

McCain obtained a loan for his campaign late last year. The loan was not directly secured by McCain's potential access to public funds. His agreement with the bank required him to reapply for public funds if he lost early primary contests and to use that money as collateral.

McCain's lawyer, former FEC Chairman Trevor Potter, has said McCain did not encumber any money that he would have received from the federal treasury.

McCain and Potter have said he was entitled to withdraw without FEC approval and have cited as examples Dean and Democrat Dick Gephardt, both of whom withdrew from public financing during the 2004 presidential primary.

"Howard Dean's hypocrisy is breathtaking, given that in 2003 he withdrew from the matching funds system in exactly the same way John McCain is doing today," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said Sunday.

DNC spokeswoman Stacie Paxton said Dean, unlike McCain, took out no loan that raised questions about his use of potential public funds.

If the Arizona senator was prohibited from withdrawing from public financing, his campaign spending would be severly limited for the next six months. Under campaign finance rules, he's allowed to spend only $54 million. As of the end of last month, his campaign had already spent nearly $50 million.

Source: Associated Press

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