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  Loans Could Paint McCain Into Corner
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Last EditedArmyDem  Feb 27, 2008 10:41pm
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MediaNewspaper - Washington Post
News DateThursday, February 28, 2008 04:40:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 27, 2008; Page A06

Sen. John McCain's campaign and a Bethesda bank strongly defended $4 million in loans yesterday, as Democrats questioned their legality and said that the way they were secured requires the Arizona Republican to abide by federal spending restrictions.

Trevor Potter, a former Federal Election Commission chairman who is McCain's lawyer, wrote in a letter to the nation's top election official yesterday that the loans were proper and that they should not prevent McCain from withdrawing from the presidential public financing system.

On Monday, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the FEC arguing that the way the loans were structured -- by using the promise of federal matching funds as collateral -- requires McCain to remain in the system. McCain "secured a $4 million line of credit to keep his campaign afloat by using public financing as collateral. He should follow the law," said Howard Dean, the DNC chairman.

The dispute centers on some of the most esoteric aspects of campaign finance law, but the implications for McCain's presidential bid are potentially serious. McCain applied for public financing last year, when his campaign was faltering. In February, when his campaign had turned around, he wrote the FEC seeking to exit the system. But to do so, McCain needed to show he had not yet received any federal funds and had not used the promise of those funds as collateral to borrow money.

Should the FEC or a federal court force him to remain within the system, he would have to abide by a $54 million spending cap until September, when the primary season ends. His campaign had spent $49 million as of Jan. 31, reports show.
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