Friday, March 02, 2007

An Opportunity for Hillary and the Rest of the '08 Field

Yesterday, the Federal Election Commission ruled that candidates who initially opt out of the presidential public financing system for the general election may opt back in if they return the private money they have raised.

As the Washington Post reports:
Until now, candidates believed that once they started to raise a separate pool of money for the general election, they were committing to running without federal matching funds.

The FEC agreed, however, with Obama's contention that rules prohibiting him from "accepting" donations for a general election run, would not prohibit him from "receiving" those contributions, so long as he held them in a separate account, and if he were to decide to take public funds, simply return the money.
This ruling came at the request of Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who has indicated that he would be open to receiving public funds and abiding by the spending limits for the general election if his opponent agreed to do the same. Normally, an agreement of this nature might seem like a pipedream, but the New York Times reported today that Arizona Senator John McCain, who has long championed campaign finance reform, will participate in the system for the general election if his opponent does.

At least for the primary election, the leading candidates are eschewing the system, which (we believe) needs serious updating.

Still, the ruling gives us hope that public financing at the federal level is not dead. We encourage our own junior Senator and the rest of the ’08 candidates to consider a deal to work within the presidential public financing system for the general election. Moreover, we hope to see the candidates come out in support of reforming the system to make it viable in today’s electoral climate.

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