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McCain sees new effort to reform campaign finance

Former presidential hopeful John McCain talks about the impact private donations have on the presidential campaign.


Arizona Sen. John McCain predicted a renewed effort of reform the nation's campaign finance laws as an outgrowth of the unrestrained influx of donations in this year's presidential campaign. 

The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which struck down many of the restrictions on political spending and spurred the advent of so-called "super PACs," was one of the worst in modern history, McCain said. 

"I think there will be scandals as associated with the worst decision of the Supreme Court in the 21st Century — uninformed, arrogant, naive," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The fact is that the system is broken," he later added. "I predict to you that there will be scandals, and I predict to you that there will be reform again."

McCain has long been an advocate of campaign finance reform; a landmark 2002 campaign finance law bearing his name was the subject of the legal challenge that led to the Citizens United ruling. 

That decision did away with many of the limits on the magnitude of political contributions, fueling an inflation in the cost of campaigns, particularly on the federal level. Super PACs like American Crossroads, Restore our Future and Priorities USA Action have been able to spend tens of millions of dollars already on the campaign. They're able to cull their support from a handful of wealthy donors, the size of whose report is sometimes clouded by twin nonprofit groups associated with super PACs, which don't have to disclose their donors. 

One of the largest such donors has been Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who gave over $10 million to a super PAC in the primary that supported Newt Gingrich for president. Adelson's since pledged at least $10 million to the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. 

McCain fretted earlier this week that Adelson's contributions would be tantamount to "foreign money" entering the campaign, since Adelson's fortune is built in part by revenues from overseas casinos. 

McCain said on Sunday that he's worried about Adelson's influence, but no more so than the influence of organized labor spending or other donors' impact on the campaign.

"Not any more than other people who will give lots of money; not any more than the trade unions, the labor unions have. The whole system's broken, and there's a wash. I don't pick out Mr. Adelson any more than I pick out Mr. Trumka," he said, referring to the AFL-CIO's president.