McCain & Co. Find New Ways to Circumvent Campaign Finance Laws McCain Wrote

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I said yesterday that running for president makes messes of good men (and women). And I meant it:

…a Republican Party fund aimed at electing governors has started marketing itself as a home for contributions of unlimited size to help Sen. McCain. His 2002 campaign law limits donations to presidential races to try to curtail the influence of wealth.

The Republican Governors Association isn’t subject to those limits, and has long gathered up large donations from individuals and companies. Now it is telling donors it can use their contributions to benefit Sen. McCain in some key battleground states.

That makes the group “the best way to help McCain,” says donor David Hanna, who gave $25,000 — more than 10 times the legal cap of $2,300 for direct gifts to presidential candidates.

The campaign finance system isn’t perfect, and a donor with deep pockets can find a way to funnel money into the system:

The $2,300 limit on contributions to presidential candidates, set by the so-called McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, is the best-known cap on political donations, but it doesn’t apply to all types of fund raising. National parties can accept up to $28,500 and state parties can collect up to $10,000 to spend on federal campaigns. Altogether, individuals can give $108,000 to federal campaigns within each two-year election cycle.

Donors with deep pockets also can avoid limits completely by contributing to groups called 527 organizations, after a provision in the tax code. Those groups can collect uncapped donations from individuals — and also collect from companies and unions, which have been prohibited from giving to parties or candidates since 2002.

The RGA’s executive director, Nick Ayers, says, “We are the equalizer in this campaign.” I smell a FEC complaint from the DNC. Another one, I mean.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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