Posted by | October 28, 2010 19:33 | Filed under: Contributors News Behaving Badly Opinion Politics Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

The story of John McCain’s proxy war against Raúl Grijalva got a new wrinkle today. I’ve previously reported here that McCain has recently funneled over $91,ooo of his own campaign cash into ad buys targeting Rep. Grijalva on behalf of his opponent, Ruth McClung. Sen. McCain has an axe to grind with Grijalva over the representative’s consistent opposition to uranium and copper mining in sensitive areas of Arizona.

Following a complaint to the FEC by the DCCC, McCain produced documents claiming the funds were made as “independent expenditures.” The problem this presents is that the law requires the two campaigns remain completely separate and cannot coordinate. On Tuesday, we learned that Ruth McClung has now moved her campaign headquarters into McCain’s Tucson office. Today, the Huffington Post’Ryan Grim reported on email evidence of collusion between the campaigns.

An email sent by the McClung campaign on Monday, however, provides evidence that the two camps are working directly together. It asks volunteers to come to the campaign’s headquarters, which it shares with McCain, to make phone calls on behalf of the campaign. “Questions – email or call Mike Sistak who is McCain’s staff person at the HQ,” reads the message to supporters, which was obtained by HuffPost. It also provides Sistak’s phone number and email address

McCain’s spokesman, Brian Rogers, pushes back against the coordination allegations saying, “‘Coordination’ has a very specific legal meaning under the FEC regulations, and involves sharing campaign strategy and plans — not just appearing on the same stage or asking volunteers to meet at the same building, as is the case here.” The FEC will ultimately have to shake this out, but ordinarily, campaigns deliberately separate their IE operations from the campaign which can coordinate. They certainly don’t house the two in the same building, with the same staff.  Election attorney Andrew Herman told Grim,

With most operations, “[t]here is at the very least the effort and the appearance made to separate the two. This is just blatant disregard for even the most general formality. It’s ridiculous,” said Herman. “It begs any kind of credibility that he could be claiming any kind of independence. It’s absurd. It takes it to its absurd limit.”

Even if the FEC ultimately sides with McCain, he is blatantly destroying the spirit of his legacy campaign finance legislation, the McCain-Feingold Act. How cantankerous can he get?

On a side note: I would point out that in the campaign email from Ruth McClung urging supporters to turn up at the office to phone bank, free food and beverages are mentioned. So, by the logic of Sharron Angle, Ruth McClung is trying to steal the election with bribes!

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.