McCain-Feingold Helps McCain, Hurts Rivals in 2008

Mike Huckabee points out a little-known fact about the McCain-Feingold Act: It will be very helpful to John McCain in his 2008 presidential run and harmful to many of his rivals.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday said potential 2008 presidential rival John McCain’s campaign finance reforms gives the Republican senator an advantage over other candidates by allowing him to transfer money easily.

“If you’re a senator, you can take the money you raise in a Senate campaign and transfer it to a presidential, but you can’t take money you raise in a state campaign and transfer that to a federal campaign,” Huckabee, a Republican, told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. “McCain was very smart in creating a system where he could take all of this Senate money that he had and turn it over to his presidential campaign to give him a distinct advantage over anyone else who ran,” he said.

I’m sure that’s just a happy coincidence. McCain is, after all, as honest as the day is long, a straight shooting straight talking kind of guy who wants to end the evils of money in politics. That the reforms he proposed just happened to give him a boatload of ready cash that doesn’t count against the cap is just something he’ll have to live with.

In all seriousness, I don’t think McCain intended to rig the system in his favor. Indeed, since he’s the frontrunner, limits on contributions probably handicap him more than other candidates. But, as the critics of campaign finance reform have argued from the beginning, limits on political contributions almost by definition become an incumbent protection program. Moreover, they always produce harmful unintended consequences as people find loopholes.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. trippin says:

    Certainly if ABSCAM disqualifies Murtha from being Majority Leader, the Keating Five disqualifies McCain from being President.

  2. I suspect that looking at who voted for the bill (aka senators) has more to do with shy senators would be exempted and not state officials. If governors had a vote in the process, I suspect they would have carved out a similar exemption for themselves.

    I understand why Huckabee pins McCain’s name to the loophole, but I think it is a loophole better laid at the feet of all members of the worlds most exclusive club.

  3. Person of Choler says:

    “McCain-Feingold Helps McCain, Hurts Rivals in 2008”

    And who is surprised by that?