McCain Solicits Russian Envoy for Campaign Cash!?October 20, 2008
The McCain campaign is using some very odd tactics to raise money. Odd tactics that are explicitly illegal and disturbing. The McCain campaign sent a letter to a Russian envoy to the United Nations asking for not just the $2,300 that would be legally allowed to be contributed to his general election campaign by a citizen of the US, but a letter asking for $5,000 from an officer of a foreign government!
Vitaly Churkin received the letter, with McCain’s signature allegedly on it (it has not been confirmed as an authentic signature, it may be printed on), asking for more money than is legally allowable to give to a campaign. They also included a very clever clause in the letter, stating that if Vitaly Churkin gave them the $5,000, they would return any unused amount in a check after the October 24. Very clever in that it gives them opportunity to use the full $5,000 dollars to earn interest, or provide a larger amount of financing collateral, while not needing to report the full amount as a donation.
There are so many legal problems with their request for money from a foreign national, especially from an official in the Russian Government. Another problem is the use of private money in a publicly financed campaign, such as McCain’s. McCain cannot accept private donations, except for use in accounting and legal spending which must be put in separate accounts to ensure separation of public and private monies. McCain therefore is attempting to fund his legal and accounting expenses not only at this late date (which he has plenty of general election funds raised before he declared for public financing for that use), but also from Russian government officials. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the Russians involved in the presidential campaign.
The Russians are quite upset about this solicitation from the McCain campaign, not only for its impropriety, but also for McCain to make blustering charges against them, then with the other hand attempt to get money from them. The seriousness with which the Russians are taking this matter can be seen in their formal dissemination of a press release from Ruslan Bakhtin, the press secretary of the Russian mission to the UN:
We have received a letter from Senator John McCain with a request for a financial donation to his presidential election campaign. In this respect we have to reiterate that neither Russia’s permanent mission to the UN nor the Russian government or its officials finance political activities in foreign countries
If this letter had been perceived as merely a mistake, it is hardly likely that the Russians would go so far as to formally denounce the solicitation.
I have yet to hear the McCain campaign explain why they were soliciting money from a foreign agent.