Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Money Out of Politics; Unintended Consequences Dept.

By putting his money where he wants his mouth to be, Washington State Libertarian Senatorial candidate Bruce Guthrie has apparently opened the door for insurance executive (and the wealthiest millionaire running for that office) Mike McGavick to expand his fund raising operations. Thanks to, it appears, McCain-Feingold:

Bruce Guthrie, the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate, has bought himself a $1.2 million place at a debate podium with his better-known opponents, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Mike McGavick.

Guthrie admitted Monday that he lent $1,181,700 to his ultra-underdog campaign Saturday mainly to appear credible enough for inclusion in the only televised Western Washington debate between the two major candidates. It will be at KING/5 studios in Seattle on Oct. 17.

....The surprise infusion of big money into the effort of an obscure, third-party candidate potentially could change the dynamics of the contest, especially if the hard-fought race between Cantwell and McGavick is tight.

Further, an analysis Monday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggested that Guthrie's self-financing would trigger the "Millionaire's Amendment" in the 2002 federal Campaign Finance Reform Act.

However, under the amendment's arcane financing formula, it apparently would let McGavick -- but not Cantwell -- ask supporters for triple the normal individual contribution limit of $2,100, up to a maximum of $840,448 more.

The formula is based largely on how much cash on hand each candidate had Dec. 31, and McGavick had much less than Cantwell -- although the Republican, a wealthy former insurance executive, has since lent his campaign $2 million.

McGavick reportedly having a larger fortune than the one gifted to Cantwell for her brief employment at Real Networks. However, for real financial savvy, it's hard to top the Libertarian:

Mike Cate, KING's special projects producer, said it appears Guthrie has met one of the station's guidelines for qualifying for the debate: raising at least 10 percent of the funds raised by the winner of the previous Senate election. The station used the 2004 third-quarter fundraising report filed by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who had raised $12.1 million.

Added to the meager $31,062 in campaign contributions to Guthrie as of Aug. 31, his loan gives him 10.003 percent of what Murray raised.

"I cannot tell a lie. It's not a coincidence," Guthrie said. "One of the reasons for the exact amount is that KING/5 requirement. But another reason was that was all the money I could scrape together."

He admitted he might not spend much of it, saying: "This is a loan, and I do intend to get most of it back. If the fundraising doesn't go well, I might not spend most of it. If the fundraising does go well, I might spend most of it."

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