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http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2...ic_spendin.html

McCain Blows by Public Spending Cap

By Matthew Mosk

Sen. John McCain has officially broken the limits imposed by the presidential public financing system, reports filed last night show.

McCain has now spent $58.4 million on his primary effort. Those who have committed to public financing can spend no more than $54 million on their primary bid.

So has McCain broken the law? The answer is far from simple.

It depends on whether he has, in fact, withdrawn from the public matching program. McCain was certified to enter the matching program last year when he was starved for cash. But once he started to win primaries, he decided to step back from it. On Feb. 6, after his Super Tuesday victories, he wrote to the FEC to announce he would withdraw from the program.

McCain's lawyers said that gave him freedom to spend as much as he wanted -- once he announced his intent to withdraw from the system, they say, he was released from the spending caps.

But Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason wrote McCain's campaign last month to alert him that the commission had not yet granted his Feb. 6 request to withdraw, and that the commission would first need to vote on the matter. A snag: The FEC has four vacancies and therefore lacks a quorum to consider the matter.

There's little agreement on what the FEC would have done, had they been able to meet. In part, that's because McCain borrowed $4 million from a commercial bank, and promised to pay the money back through his fundraising efforts. If the campaign went badly, he told the bank, he would use future matching funds to help repay the loan. The rules say that candidates who use matching funds as collateral have to remain within the confines of the system. The Democratic National Committee filed a complaint to the FEC about McCain's actions, but without that quorum, evaluation of the complaint has been stalled.

Meanwhile, McCain's fundraising has roared ahead, now that he is the presumptive Republican nominee. His campaign announced yesterday that it repaid the $4 million loan last week, ahead of schedule.

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My hero bulgeface!

http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/inde....xml&coll=2

McCain campaign gets almost 80% off on Homewood gathering space, plus free labor from Homewood Jail inmates

Thursday, April 24, 2008 KIM BRYAN News staff writer

Republican presidential candidate John McCain got a deal when his campaign rented gathering space from the city of Homewood for a private fundraiser earlier this week.

His campaign was given a discount of about 80 percent off the standard booking rate for Rosewood Hall. In September, Jefferson County Democrats rented the same facility and were charged the full rate.

The McCain campaign was charged $250 to use two rooms in the hall, which normally would book for $1,200 on a weeknight. The campaign also was given free labor from Homewood City Jail inmates to set up tables and chairs for the event, avoiding a $100 set-up fee, but did pay a standard $50 cleaning fee.

Homewood Mayor Barry McCulley said the rental rate was discounted because the event was on Monday, a slow day for business. City Council members say they always vote on such discounts but didn't get a say in this deal. They're upset, as are local Democrats.

"I think it's outrageous," said Robert Yarbrough, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and a Homewood resident.

"I was charged full book rate. I was never offered any free inmate services to set up for my event. Mayor McCulley owes an apology to every citizen in Homewood as to why he arbitrarily changed the fee for this out-of-state senator from Arizona."

Yarbrough rented the entire hall, three rooms, on Thursday nights in September 2006 and September 2007 for the Democratic Blue Dot Ball fundraiser. The weekday fee is $1,700 for all three rooms, according to the official rates. Yarbrough said the Democrats paid more than $2,500 for all charges each year.

McCulley said he and City Council President Ginger Busby agreed on the lower rate for McCain's event. He said minor policy changes such as this don't require council approval.

Busby says there was a miscommunication.

"The mayor asked me if the hall could be free for the McCain event, and I said absolutely not," Busby said. "He then asked if it was appropriate to charge a lesser fee for Mondays. I said as long as it didn't cost the city money, it could be considered."

Busby said she did not know what the charge was or that city inmates were involved. She didn't attend the event and was at a soccer game Monday night, she said.

City Councilman David Hooks said that the council typically debates and votes each time there is a request to discount or waive the rent, but that didn't happen this time.

"I'd be concerned with the legal ramifications of that, from the city's perspective," Hooks said. "It could be a problem for the city to have made in-kind donations to a political candidate by charging less rent or having inmates do work for the event."

McCain campaign officials in Washington said they knew nothing about Homewood using inmate labor at no cost, nor did they ask for a cut rate.

"We paid what we were asked to pay," said Jeff Sadosky, McCain campaign spokesman.

The McCain event invoice shows an $850 total, including a $150 permit to serve alcohol and a refundable $400 security deposit.

Homewood police Chief Phil Dodd said city jail inmates had never before set up at Rosewood Hall, but did so at the mayor's request. The regular workers don't work on Sundays, when the event had to be set up, Dodd said.

Busby said she is asking the Republican Party to cover the $950 rental discount and $100 set-up waiver McCulley gave the McCain campaign.

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My hero bulgeface!

http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/inde....xml&coll=2

McCain campaign gets almost 80% off on Homewood gathering space, plus free labor from Homewood Jail inmates

Thursday, April 24, 2008 KIM BRYAN News staff writer

Republican presidential candidate John McCain got a deal when his campaign rented gathering space from the city of Homewood for a private fundraiser earlier this week.

His campaign was given a discount of about 80 percent off the standard booking rate for Rosewood Hall. In September, Jefferson County Democrats rented the same facility and were charged the full rate.

The McCain campaign was charged $250 to use two rooms in the hall, which normally would book for $1,200 on a weeknight. The campaign also was given free labor from Homewood City Jail inmates to set up tables and chairs for the event, avoiding a $100 set-up fee, but did pay a standard $50 cleaning fee.

Homewood Mayor Barry McCulley said the rental rate was discounted because the event was on Monday, a slow day for business. City Council members say they always vote on such discounts but didn't get a say in this deal. They're upset, as are local Democrats.

"I think it's outrageous," said Robert Yarbrough, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and a Homewood resident.

"I was charged full book rate. I was never offered any free inmate services to set up for my event. Mayor McCulley owes an apology to every citizen in Homewood as to why he arbitrarily changed the fee for this out-of-state senator from Arizona."

Yarbrough rented the entire hall, three rooms, on Thursday nights in September 2006 and September 2007 for the Democratic Blue Dot Ball fundraiser. The weekday fee is $1,700 for all three rooms, according to the official rates. Yarbrough said the Democrats paid more than $2,500 for all charges each year.

McCulley said he and City Council President Ginger Busby agreed on the lower rate for McCain's event. He said minor policy changes such as this don't require council approval.

Busby says there was a miscommunication.

"The mayor asked me if the hall could be free for the McCain event, and I said absolutely not," Busby said. "He then asked if it was appropriate to charge a lesser fee for Mondays. I said as long as it didn't cost the city money, it could be considered."

Busby said she did not know what the charge was or that city inmates were involved. She didn't attend the event and was at a soccer game Monday night, she said.

City Councilman David Hooks said that the council typically debates and votes each time there is a request to discount or waive the rent, but that didn't happen this time.

"I'd be concerned with the legal ramifications of that, from the city's perspective," Hooks said. "It could be a problem for the city to have made in-kind donations to a political candidate by charging less rent or having inmates do work for the event."

McCain campaign officials in Washington said they knew nothing about Homewood using inmate labor at no cost, nor did they ask for a cut rate.

"We paid what we were asked to pay," said Jeff Sadosky, McCain campaign spokesman.

The McCain event invoice shows an $850 total, including a $150 permit to serve alcohol and a refundable $400 security deposit.

Homewood police Chief Phil Dodd said city jail inmates had never before set up at Rosewood Hall, but did so at the mayor's request. The regular workers don't work on Sundays, when the event had to be set up, Dodd said.

Busby said she is asking the Republican Party to cover the $950 rental discount and $100 set-up waiver McCulley gave the McCain campaign.

Definitely the caffeine.

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