John McCain: Too Close For Comfort With Ruth McClung?

Posted by | October 26, 2010 20:48 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

Things are getting messy in Arizona. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a complaint with the FEC against Sen. John McCain last week for iffy spending on a campaign other than his own. The complaint alleges that Sen. McCain is coordinating campaign efforts with two GOP House candidates.

On October 18th, two new ads began airing around the clock in Arizona featuring McCain and Sen. Jon Kyl. The first ad targets Rep. Raúl Grijalva and supports Republican Ruth McClung. The second ad attacks Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and supports Republican Jesse Kelly. The ads were funded with $91, 872 from McCain’s own campaign fund. Ironically, McCain may be in violation of the very campaign finance law which bears his name.

McCain’s spending rubs up against — and may cross — the legal line drawn by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. The FEC’s general counsel has said that the law clearly prohibits a candidate’s committee from giving a second candidate assistance beyond $1,000.

This week the story got stranger yet. Ruth McClung, the GOP candidate in AZ-7, has suddenly moved into new campaign office space outside of her own district. That space happens to be the Tucson office of Sen. John McCain. Questions are now swirling about collusion between these two campaigns. Despite enormous amounts of outside money pouring into the district on her behalf, Ruth McClung’s own campaign finances have been quite meager until very recently. For instance, her mother, Gini Crawford, serves as her campaign manager.

While the McClung camp claims to be paying rent on the space, questions about other shared resources, such as McCain’s sophisticated ground network, will not go away so easily. Prior to this revelation, the DCCC claimed in a statement:

The fact that Jesse Kelly, Ruth McClung and John McCain have coordinated campaign efforts is indisputable. By Jesse Kelly and Ruth McClung’s own accounts, they have met with Senator John McCain, they all shared the stage at a unity rally in August, and they are all coordinating with the Arizona Republican party.

From the FEC complaint:

There can be no doubt that these ads were coordinated with McClung and Kelly, even under the current FEC rules as commonly understood.  It is utterly implausible that the state’s most senior Republican, who appeared at a Tea Party rally for these two candidates less than ten days ago, would have commenced this ad blitz without their assent, substantial discussion or material involvement.

Between the ad buys, the office space and the campaign ground staff, the appearance of illegal coordination is inescapable. The question is why. Why would John McCain stick his neck out like this for a 28 year old political neophyte? The answer may lay in McCain’s relationship with McClung’s opponent more than with McClung herself. John McCain is likely eager to unseat Raúl Grijalva, the obstacle in the way of one of his pet issues in Arizona: mining.

Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyl have both long been backers of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. Rep. Grijalva has stood in the way. John McCain also backs a land swap to allow copper mining near the San Carlos Apache reservation. Again, Raúl Grijalva stands opposed. We’ve all seen enough evidence of John McCain’s angry disposition, that it’s no stretch to see Ruth McClung as nothing more than the weapon in McCain’s proxy war against Grijalva.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.

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