Washington, DC - Despite his campaign promise to set a "new standard for transparency and accountability," the Wall Street Journal today reports that John McCain is refusing to pay for his campaign's use of a corporate jet. Despite his previous efforts to restrict the use of corporate jets, McCain's campaign failed to reimburse the cost of "several trips last year that included campaign-related activity." The story quotes two Republican campaign lawyers saying McCain should have paid for the flights.
Today's report follows the revelation in April that McCain used the Hensley corporate jet at a discounted rate campaign by exploiting an "unresolved exemption in a recent campaign finance law that Mr. McCain backed" to pay well below market rates for the flights.
McCain's hypocrisy on the use of corporate jets is part of a troubling pattern of ignoring the law when it stands in the way of his campaign. Earlier this year, the DNC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission after McCain unilaterally withdraw from the FEC's matching funds program despite using the program to financially benefit his campaign, which is clearly against the law.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement on John McCain's latest attempt to skirt election law:
"John McCain's refusal to pay for his campaign's use of a corporate jet is the latest evidence that Senator McCain thinks his campaign is above the law. Senator McCain poses as a reformer, but time and time again he has chosen to ignore the rules when they are inconvenient to his campaign. America cannot afford another four years of A Bush Republican President who thinks the law applies to everyone but him. Illegal corporate contributions are not what the American people thought Senator McCain had in mind when he promised to bring a new standard of accountability to government."
Wall Street Journal: McCain Campaign Fails to Reimburse For Up To Four Campaign Flights. "She used the jet on several trips last year that included campaign-related activity but never got campaign reimbursement, according to flight-tracking records and campaign-finance reports verified by the McCain campaign. At the New York fund-raiser, she spoke on stage, warming up the audience for her husband. If the campaign had paid for Mrs. McCain's trip to New York and three others that appear to have included some campaign work, it would likely have cost a total of about $15,000, the equivalent of first-class fare for the trips combined." [Wall Street Journal, 6/18/08: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB121374837867082729-lMyQjAxMDI4MTEzNzcxNDc4Wj.html]
Republican Experts: McCain Should Have Paid for the Flights. "Jan Baran, a Republican campaign lawyer, said the campaign should have paid. 'I don't know why they want to fight it,' he said. 'The chutzpah is not that they're not paying for this trip, it's that they're using a corporate airplane at a highly discounted rate.' Cleta Mitchell, another Republican lawyer, said she would have advised her clients to pay for such a trip, but that the McCain campaign had a solid legal basis for not doing so. 'That advisory opinion is something of an outlier,' she said, 'but I think it is probably appropriate that they are relying on that to say that, under the circumstances, it would have been inappropriate to pay for her air travel.'" [Wall Street Journal, 6/18/08: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB121374837867082729-lMyQjAxMDI4MTEzNzcxNDc4Wj.html]
McCain Campaign Fails to Reimburse for Use of Corporate Jet. "Sen. John McCain's wife flew in her company's private jet last year from Phoenix to New York City, where she spent three hours of the two-day trip at a fund-raiser for her husband's presidential campaign. The rest of her visit was devoted to personal matters, according to the campaign. The campaign didn't reimburse Cindy McCain for the March 7-9, 2007, trip, which included the event near Times Square that brought in an estimated $100,000." [Wall Street Journal, 6/18/08: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB121374837867082729-lMyQjAxMDI4MTEzNzcxNDc4Wj.html]
New York Times: McCain Used Unresolved Loophole in His Own Reform Law to Get Discounted Flights. "Mr. McCain's campaign paid a total of $241,149 for the use of that plane from last August through February, records show. That amount is approximately the cost of chartering a similar jet for a month or two, according to industry estimates. The senator was able to fly so inexpensively because the law specifically exempts aircraft owned by a candidate or his family or by a privately held company they control. The Federal Election Commission adopted rules in December to close the loophole -- rules that would have required substantial payments by candidates using family-owned planes -- but the agency soon lost the requisite number of commissioners needed to complete the rule making. Because that exemption remains, Mr. McCain's campaign was able to use his wife's corporate plane like a charter jet while paying first-class rates, several campaign finance experts said. Several of those experts, however, added that his campaign's actions, while keeping with the letter of law, did not reflect its spirit." [New York Times, 4/27/08: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/us/politics/27plane.html?_r=1&oref=slogin]