Getting personal about campaign finance reform

I’ve always greatly admired Senator McCain even though I agree with his positions less and less frequently. But, if true, this item in the Washington Times (via Byron York and the July 18 issue of National Review) is disturbing. The story comes from Bradley Smith who recently left the Federal Election Commission where he was a thorn in McCain’s side with respect to campaign finance reform. Here’s the essence of it:

[According to Smith] “McCain has always refused to meet with me. . . .I tried to meet him once at a public hearing. He was at the table, and I went up and I said, ‘Senator,’ and I held out my hand. And he instinctively took my hand, and then he looked up and realized who it was, and he yanked his hand away and said, ‘I’m not going to shake your hand. You’re a bully and a coward, and you have no regard for the Constitution. I don’t have to talk to you. I’m not going to talk to you.’ It was right in front of a large number of people.”
When [Byron] York asked whether the senator had really called him a bully and a coward, Mr. Smith replied: “Uh-huh. And corrupt, too. He always calls me corrupt. And my wife says, ‘If you’re corrupt, you’re the worst corrupt person I’ve ever seen. Where are the fur coats? The watches? The cars? The fancy trips?’?”
Mr. Smith said he doesn’t think Mr. McCain understands his own signature issue. “He is woefully ill-informed on campaign finance issues,” Mr. Smith said. “I have seen him repeatedly misstate what the law is, misstate what court decisions held, and I think that’s one reason he gets so angry when he talks about it. It’s because he doesn’t really understand what a complex issue it is, what a difficult issue it is, he doesn’t understand the court hearings, he doesn’t understand how we’ve gotten where we are — so he just gets mad.”

SCOTT adds: Allison Hayward, the wife of our friend Steve Hayward, just completed a term working for Commissioner Smith. Steve writes: “Paul mentions that the York story about McCain is disturbing ‘if true.’ It is absolutely accurate: Allison was standing about ten feet away and witnessed and heard the whole thing (the episode of McCain refusing to shake Brad’s hand and calling him ‘corrupt’ to his face, etc). Other people who saw it were shocked at McCain’s boorish behavior.”


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