From NBC's Mark Murray
With so much attention on Obama's reversal on public financing, liberal bloggers like Arianna Huffington and Josh Marshall have wondered why McCain's own apparent flip flop on the subject hasn't received as much scrutiny.
Well, the Democratic National Committee is trying to change that by filing a lawsuit in US District Court in DC to force the Federal Election Commission to investigate McCain's decision to opt in the public matching funds system for the primaries, secure a loan based on those public funds, and then withdraw from the system after becoming the GOP front-runner. McCain, though, never actually received those public funds before opting out.
"The chairman of the FEC," the lawsuit states, "has already advised Sen. McCain that he is not free to withdraw unilaterally from his agreement with the FEC and to ignore the legal requirements of the Matching Payments Act, without the FEC's approval. Yet Sen. McCain cannot obtain such approval, because he already violated a key condition for dispensing with the Agreement by which he entered the matching funds program: he has pledged matching funds as collateral for a loan to his campaign."
Had McCain not opted out of the matching funds program, he would be limited in how much he can raise and spend up until the GOP convention -- which would put him at an enormous disadvantage against Obama's fundraising machine.
Republican National Committee chief counsel Sean Cairncross issued this statement in response to the DNC's lawsuit: "The law states that a candidate must actually receive public funds to be subject to the primary campaign spending limit. The McCain campaign never received any primary matching funds, and the campaign's lending bank has made clear that no entitlements to public funds were used as collateral to secure any loan. The DNC should spend more time explaining why its candidate broke his word to the American people on public financing and less time on reckless lawsuits. We are confident the FEC will throw this meritless complaint out and that the court will recognize it as a waste of judicial resources."