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California and the West

McCain Misspoke in Supporting Prop. 34

Politics: An aide says he meant Prop. 25, another, more restrictive state campaign finance reform measure defeated in the March primary.

October 05, 2000|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Sen. John McCain, who built his White House bid around campaign finance reform, opposes a California campaign finance measure on the November ballot and misspoke when he said he backed it, an aide said Wednesday.

The measure is less restrictive than an earlier one McCain supported and would create the kind of "soft money" system in California that the Arizona senator is fighting at the federal level.

McCain said in response to a reporter's question Sept. 16 that he favored Proposition 34, which would place caps on California's now virtually unlimited political donations. Individuals, corporations and special-interest groups can donate any sum to candidates and campaigns.

"I think any reform is better than the present system," McCain said at the time. "It's clearly badly in need of repair, and I wouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

McCain said he would "do everything I can to see that this initiative is passed."

On Wednesday, an aide to McCain said he had misspoken, believing the question referred to a stricter proposition on California's March ballot, which he supported.

Last winter McCain endorsed that measure, Proposition 25. Voters rejected it nearly 2 to 1 in the March primary.

Proposition 25 was far more stringent than this fall's initiative.

It would have limited individual donations to $5,000 for statewide candidates and outlawed corporate contributions. And it proposed using taxpayer money to finance some advertising for campaigns agreeing to voluntary spending limits.

The measure on the November ballot would cap most donations at $20,000 for governor and $5,000 for other statewide candidates.

Political parties could give unlimited sums to campaigns, though they could collect no more than $25,000 a year from any one donor to support or oppose candidates.

But a donor could give limitless sums of money to a party if the cash is not meant for a specific campaign. That is akin to unlimited, largely unregulated "soft money" donations that have flooded this year's presidential and congressional campaigns.

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