In what has to be one of the most embarrassing turn of events for the McCain campaign thus far, it appears that in purchasing $150,000 worth of clothes for Sarah Palin and her family, McCain and his campaign and/or the RNC have violated the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. A link to the entire text of the law and the relevant text are below. Only a lawyer would know for sure if this constitutes a breach of the law but the spirit of the law was definitely broken by the RNC, Palin and the McCain campaign:
SEC. 313. USE OF CONTRIBUTED AMOUNTS FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES.
(a) PERMITTED USES-
(b) PROHIBITED USE-
(1) IN GENERAL- A contribution or donation described in subsection (a) shall not be converted by any person to personal use.
(2) CONVERSION- For the purposes of paragraph (1), a contribution or donation shall be considered to be converted to personal use if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate's election campaign or individual's duties as a holder of Federal office, including--
(A) a home mortgage, rent, or utility payment;
(B) a clothing purchase;
(C) a noncampaign-related automobile expense;
(D) a country club membership;
(E) a vacation or other noncampaign-related trip;
(F) a household food item;
(G) a tuition payment;
(H) admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, or other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign; and
(I) dues, fees, and other payments to a health club or recreational facility.'
'(a) NATIONAL COMMITTEES-
'(1) IN GENERAL- A national committee of a political party (including a national congressional campaign committee of a political party) may not solicit, receive, or direct to another person a contribution, donation, or transfer of funds or any other thing of value, or spend any funds, that are not subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of this Act.
'(2) APPLICABILITY- The prohibition established by paragraph (1) applies to any such national committee, any officer or agent acting on behalf of such a national committee, and any entity that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained, or controlled by such a national committee.
This puts McCain and his campaign squarely in the realm of slapstick comedy. Does anyone still think he has the managerial and leadership skills to be President? His first major decision was choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, the most unqualified person on a major national ticket in over 100 years, now his campaign violates a campaign finance reform law that he himself wrote. It's hard to demonstrate incompetence any better than that. He makes Inspector Clousseau, Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello seem adroit by comparison.
Will McCain and the RNC now stop whining about the money Obama has been able to raise? If they can afford to spend $150,000 on Palin's clothes, they obviously are not hurting for money. What does this say about the campaign's attempts to reach out to the 'Joe the Plumbers' and 'Joe Sixpacks' and 'Hockey moms' out there? Do those types of people spend $150,000 on clothes from Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue? To think that Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and various other denizens of the Conservative Right went ballistic over a $400 haircut for John Edwards. Edwards' expenditures are minor league compared to the McCain-Shoppin' ticket. You betcha!
McCain is now in the unenviable position of trying to convince the American people that he should be the Chief Law Enforcement official of the land when he doesn't even obey the laws that he crafted. If he were waging an issue based campaign and not hurling false accusations at Obama as fast as he could shovel, one would almost feel sorry for him. McCain had it right when he suspended his campaign a few weeks ago, but the reasons and duration were wrong. He should suspend it permanently because he clearly does not have the judgment or skills for the job.