November 9, 2002
MITCH-SLAPPED:McCain put on hot seat over ethics (Billy House, Nov. 9, 2002, Arizona Republic)
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the nation's most-visible crusader against campaign-finance abuses, is seeing his own practices and ethics examined, and perhaps tarnished, in sworn testimony that has become part of a lawsuit to undo a new campaign-finance law.
The accusations, some previously aired but now being explored under oath, are contained in depositions taken in recent weeks from McCain and fellow GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the principal plaintiff challenging the legality of the new restrictions. The lawsuit is expected to quickly reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Focusing on McCain's behavior is one strategy to getting the law overturned, explained Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer who is leading the legal charge on behalf of McConnell and others to undo the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance restrictions.
The law, which bans so-called soft money, or unregulated contributions to parties and candidates that McCain and allies say has had undue influence, took effect Wednesday.
Abrams said Friday that he has repeatedly asked McCain under oath to identify "real" acts of campaign-finance corruption that might have inspired the new law, "which he cannot do." So, Abrams said, he has also been exploring with McCain what the senator actually means when he speaks of his attempts to eliminate the "appearance of corruption" with the new campaign-funding limitations.
"At some point, I may want to argue to the Supreme Court that imposing such limits on speech, upon a concept that appears as loose and fuzzy as 'the appearance of corruption,' may not be appropriate," Abrams said. "And to illustrate that with respect to how some of Senator McCain's own practices and actions might appear, I think, will make the point with force."
You can barely count the number of times that the CFR folks thought they had Mitch McConnell rolled, only to have him rear up again and trounce them. Add Floyd Abrams, one of the great lawyers in America (even if we do disagree with him often), and you've got the stage set for a fight that Mr. McCain may soon regret, especially if his friends in the media stop protecting him and cover the story. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 9, 2002 11:36 AM