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Excess McCain 2008 presidential funds went to charity, not 2012 race
Nearly four years after Mr. McCain lost the presidential election to then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the mass of donations remained unspent because unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. McCain chose to forgo running a campaign funded by donors in the general election, instead accepting public financing.
He did, however, accept donations for a special fund that could be used for unanticipated legal, compliance and accounting costs. The compliance fund became a popular way for moneyed supporters to show their desire for a Republican president.
Brett G. Kappel, an election law attorney at Arent Fox LLP in the District, said giving to a charity is one of several options available to candidates with leftover funds, including compliance committees.
“They can give it to other candidates, federal or state parties, back to contributors — you can guess how often that happens — or to a [charity],” he said.
State parties also raised funds by attaching themselves to Mr. McCain’s name in what is known as a joint fundraising committee, in which state Republican parties and the candidate’s legal fund split the proceeds of fundraising events.
The result was that despite a tense campaign in which every bit of advertising could have helped, Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin were left with a large secondary bank account that could not be used for political purposes. The holdings were so large that nearly $1 million dollars donated to the educational charity came from interest earned over the past four years.
Mr. McCain is, along with former Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, an author of a major 2002 campaign finance law known as the McCain-Feingold Act.
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About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at email@example.com.
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