Citizens United Foes Seek a McCain Stand-In

By Matthew Murray, CQ-Roll Call

With the usual GOP suspect — Arizona Sen. John McCain — on an apparent hiatus from the cause, the hunt is on for a new Republican campaign finance champion in the Senate, where a soon-to-be-introduced Democratic counterpunch to a recent Supreme Court decision faces its stiffest competition.

By early next week, House and Senate Democrats are expected to introduce a bill designed to blunt Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which tossed out most restrictions on corporate political ad buys. While language is still being finalized, the measure will more than likely expand disclosure requirements for corporations and nonprofit organizations looking to take advantage of the more liberal regulatory landscape.

But even before its debut, the legislation faces uncertain prospects without bipartisan support — or at the very least, one Republican vote to push Democrats to the 60-vote threshold to cut off debate in the Senate.

To date, no Republicans are publicly backing the bill, which is being sponsored by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), whose panel has jurisdiction over campaign finance matters.

The absence of McCain has been striking to colleagues and outside groups on both sides.

“Given that [McCain] made the centerpiece of his earlier political efforts governmental reform and campaign finance reform in particular, it’s curious,” said Marc Elias, a Democratic campaign finance lawyer at Perkins Coie. “It seems clear that he is not planning on being a leader on reform, but is he really willing to vote against reform?”

Elias and other observers say that the day of reckoning for possible McCain support is Aug. 24, when Arizona voters take to the polls to decide the 2008 GOP presidential nominee’s fate against his primary opponent, GOP former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Many observers speculate that after the primary, McCain may pivot toward the middle and could ultimately back a Schumer-Van Hollen bill.

“Perhaps he’s planning on voting for it, but because of political considerations or other things he just doesn’t want to be out front,” Elias said. “At the end of the day, it may very well be that he doesn’t want to be a proponent of it, but that’s different than saying he wouldn’t vote for it. … It may just be that he’s saving for the last minute that decision.”

Some campaign finance reformers have already written off any prospects of McCain support. Public Citizen lobbyist Craig Holman said McCain’s political aspirations are trumping his ideological zeal. The former moderate torchbearer, who recently shunned his “maverick” moniker to a reporter, faces highly energized GOP midterm voters — and less-than-certain prospects four months out.

To read more, visit:

No comments yet - you can be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.