Cindy McCain's beer company owns a private jet.
Cindy McCain used her beer company's private jet to fly around the country doing fundraisers for John McCain's presidential campaign.
John McCain's presidential campaign never paid for the use of that jet, as required by law.
The Wall Street Journal article revealing this information does its best to give McCain the benefit of the doubt, but it's an uphill road:
Sen. John McCain's wife flew in her company's private jet last year from Phoenix to New York City, where she spent three hours of the two-day trip at a fund-raiser for her husband's presidential campaign. The rest of her visit was devoted to personal matters, according to the campaign.
The campaign didn't reimburse Cindy McCain for the March 7-9, 2007, trip, which included the event near Times Square that brought in an estimated $100,000. Should it have done so?
According to federal campaign finance rules, the answer is yes -- and no, depending on which portion of the code is applied.
Mrs. McCain's trip offers a good example of the complex and sometimes contradictory ways that post-Watergate regulations have evolved to dictate what is considered proper use of campaign funds. Sen. McCain is one of the leading champions of such rules, but critics charge his campaign has applied them liberally in a number of instances.
She used the jet on several trips last year that included campaign-related activity but never got campaign reimbursement, according to flight-tracking records and campaign-finance reports verified by the McCain campaign. At the New York fund-raiser, she spoke on stage, warming up the audience for her husband.
If the campaign had paid for Mrs. McCain's trip to New York and three others that appear to have included some campaign work, it would likely have cost a total of about $15,000, the equivalent of first-class fare for the trips combined.
Jan Baran, a Republican campaign lawyer, said the campaign should have paid. "I don't know why they want to fight it," he said. "The chutzpah is not that they're not paying for this trip, it's that they're using a corporate airplane at a highly discounted rate."
Cleta Mitchell, another Republican lawyer, said she would have advised her clients to pay for such a trip, but that the McCain campaign had a solid legal basis for not doing so. "That advisory opinion is something of an outlier," she said, "but I think it is probably appropriate that they are relying on that to say that, under the circumstances, it would have been inappropriate to pay for her air travel."
Here's the problem:
Jack Abramoff used to own luxury skyboxes at FedEx Field (where the Washington Redskins play), Camden Yards (where the Baltimore Orioles play) and at what's now the Verizon Center, but used to be the MCI Center (where the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and most concert tours play). He also used to own Signatures restaurant and Stackers Deli, and their attendant catering businesses.
Abramoff used to rent these out to Republican campaigns for use as fundraising venues, and then magically "forget" to bill the campaigns for their use, as required by law. These same campaigns, of course, magically "forgot" to pay, and usually "forgot" to report the transaction altogether.
Jack Abramoff is in jail for this.
Bob Ney went to jail for this.
Former Rep. Ernie Istook's chief of staff is going to jail for this.
John McCain... is running for president.
And what a thing to "forget" to pay for, Mr. McCain!
During Mr. McCain’s four years in the House, Mr. Keating, his family and his business associates contributed heavily to his political campaigns. The banker gave Mr. McCain free rides on his private jet, a violation of Congressional ethics rules (he later said it was an oversight and paid for the trips).
Boy, he sure forgets a lot of stuff. Or a lot of instances of the exact same unethical and illegal stuff, anyway.
Not that there's anything wrong with that! Don't wanna be "ageist" here.
It's just... weird. You know? Everybody goes to jail for this except Mr. Hero, who instead runs for president on the platform of his personal integrity.
That's not change you can mumble, grumble, mrrrraaaaah....