Was McCain’s Ottawa Fundraiser Illegal?

ImageThe Democratic National Committee has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the State Department today related to a fundraiser that John McCain held in Ottawa. At issue is whether U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins and the McCain campaign violated the Hatch Act by having the Ambassador help to organize a $100 a plate luncheon for McCain.

The Hatch Act forbids the engagement in partisan political activity by any ambassador, even if the activity in question occurs on foreign soil. It appears that McCain advisor Sen. Lindsey Graham used his South Carolina connection with the Ambassador to get advice about logistics, venues, and cities for the event. Ambassador Wilkins also contacted Thomas d’Aquino, the president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and had him help sell tickets for the event. All of this violates both the Hatch Act, and State Department ethics rules.

This has been a tough week for McCain as he has also refused to reimburse a private company for use of its corporate jet, and it came out that he withdrew from public financing for the primary after he used the promise of public funds to secure a loan for his campaign, and free national ballot access.

“By apparently running afoul of the Hatch Act during his trip to Canada today, it appears that Senator McCain is once again putting his political aspirations ahead of following the law,” said DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney. “Between his refusal to pay for his campaign’s use of a corporate jet and his illegally attempting to withdraw from the primary funds program, this is becoming a disturbing pattern of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and his campaign. How can the American people trust John McCain if he is unwilling to follow the law when it gets in the way of his political aspirations?”

There is a disturbing trend developing with the McCain campaign. On one hand they talk about campaign finance reform, but they act like campaign finance rules should apply to everyone else except them. Things such as this are the reason why we need publicly funded elections.

McCain is no better than any other politician in the current system. Laws such as the Hatch Act are in place to separate public service from partisan politics so that the corruption and patronage of a bygone era does not return. What I would like to see from John McCain are some straight actions to match his “straight talk.”

DNC Statement

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