Has John McCain just experienced an authenticity-breaking moment?
Hotline On Call reports that Straight Talk America has returned a $20,000 from Sam and Charles Wyly. Why do those names sound vaguely familiar? Well, for one thing, who could forget the huge "Republicans for Clean Air" independent expenditure the Wylys launched to bury McCain in the 2000 New York primary?
But it doesn't stop there.
On Call tells us that once the STA finance people noticed the investigation, returned the money, and disinvited the Wylys from the May 15th STA reception in Dallas. Two things here.
1) When did the McCain folks know they had a problem? Because news of the Wyly investigation is not exactly, um, news. It was featured in a DNC press release and in a Dallas Morning News article as far back as early June 2005.
2) The Wylys didn't just write a check. They were on the host committee. Okay, so McCain accepts the money and has to return it. Happens all the time. But the Wylys were actually co-hosts of the event, which means that Straight Talk America actively worked with them to corral checks for the event. So, McCain invites these two former enemies to raise money for him, after their dicey legal status is public knowledge. We knew McCain's Ranger and Pioneer outreach was aggressive, but courting two guys who he filed a Federal complaint against, while they face the real threat of indictment...?
Who's whoring worse, McCain or the Wylys? Does it matter? The white knight of campaign finance reform, the man who would compromise the First Amendment itself at the altar of ethical purity, is getting to be an awfully cheap date.
This kind of hypocrisy can kill authenticity. And without conservative base mojo, "authenticity" is all McCain's got.
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