DCCC files FEC complaint against McCain

Holly Bailey

Did John McCain violate the campaign finance law that bears his name?

That's what the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is alleging. In a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, House Democrats accuse McCain of violating campaign finance laws that limit contributions and restrict coordination between campaigns.

Earlier this week, McCain's campaign began airing ads in Arizona featuring McCain and fellow Sen. Jon Kyl urging voters to support GOP candidates in the state. One spot endorses Ruth McClung, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva in Arizona's 7th District. The other promotes Jesse Kelly, who is running against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The DCCC says the McCain ads amount to an "in-kind contribution" to the two GOP campaigns -- and as such, they exceed limits set by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. But the McCain campaign says the ads qualify as "independent expenditures," which are unlimited so long as McCain did not coordinate his actions with either the Kelly or McClung campaign.

But the DCCC is asking the FEC to investigate that question, noting the McCain has campaigned previously with both candidates and donated to their campaigns.

With just 12 days before Election Day, complaints are starting to pile up at the FEC. On Wednesday, Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller filed a complaint with the FEC over Alaskans Standing Together, a political committee that has spent more than $1 million to boost incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in bid in that state. Miller is asking the FEC to investigate whether the group has been coordinating with the Murkowski campaign.

Democrats are also asking the FEC to investigate whether World Wrestling Entertainment is illegally trying to boost former CEO Linda McMahon's Senate bid in Connecticut. On Monday, the WWE announced a "Stand Up for WWE" campaign urging fans to decry Democratic attacks on the company. Democrats are also questioning a "fan appreciation" day the company is planning in Hartford the weekend before Election Day. Both McMahon and the WWE are denying that the campaigns are coordinated in any way.

(Photo of McCain: Eric Thayer/Getty Images)