June 12, 2008

The Opening on Exiting Public Financing that Sen. Obama Has Been Waiting For?

Via TPM comes this interview in the Boston Herald in which Sen. McCain says that there's nothing he can do to stop 527 attacks on Sen. Obama. As TPM notes: "Obama's finance team has explicitly instructed donors not to give money to those groups. McCain, by contrast, seems to be saying that he can't control the groups on his side."

Bad news for Sen. Obama? Not necessarily.

It has been clear for some time that Sen. Obama rationally would not choose to opt into public financing for the general election, and now he has a reason not to do it. As I explained in my Findlaw piece:

    Obama has since imposed some new conditions for such an agreement [to use public financing in the general election], conditions that make it much less likely he will reach an agreement to participate in the system in the general election: "The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement. And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Senator McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues."

Sen. McCain never agreed to limit his spending while the Democrtic contest continued, and now it looks like he is giving some fundraising help to outside groups: the Obama campaign can justifiably read Sen. McCain's comments as a green light to anti-Obama 527s. Sen. Obama now has the green light to opt out of the public financing system.

Posted by Rick Hasen at June 12, 2008 12:17 PM