Today, while the Senate continued to debate Wall Street reform, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ventured south of the Capitol to a fundraiser hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Years ago, when McCain still considered himself a “maverick,” McCain and the Chamber clashed bitterly as McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts and pushed for campaign finance reform to rein in corporate power over elections.
ThinkProgress approached McCain as he walked to the fundraiser from his car. Asked if he supports new campaign finance reforms, McCain said no, and said that Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s (D-MD) bill does not include disclosure requirements for unions. In fact, the DISCLOSE Act would force ads funded by unions to reveal the same information as ads funded by corporations. Asked why he was attending a fundraiser hosted by the organization that helped kill his own campaign finance reforms, McCain flashed ThinkProgress a thumbs up and yelled that he “love[s] the Chamber of Commerce”:
TP: Have you taken a position on the DISCLOSE Act, the new campaign finance bill?
MCCAIN: No, I haven’t.
TP: Do you plan to support it or some type of campaign finance bill because of Citizens United?
MCCAIN: As far as I can tell, to start with, there is no provision concerning unions –
TP: No, they are regulated the same as business.
MCCAIN: No, they’re not. No, they really are not. I am answering your question. It favors the unions a great deal.
TP: Is that why you’re going to the Chamber of Commerce which opposed your campaign finance bill?
MCCAIN: I’m at the Chamber of Commerce because I love the Chamber of Commerce! They love business. I hope you’ll get involved in it too.
TP: They helped kill McCain-Feingold.
MCCAIN: They’re really wonderful people.
In recent years, McCain has flipped on his support for campaign finance reform. When the John Roberts Supreme Court struck down nearly a hundred years of campaign finance law, including most of McCain’s signature McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, McCain only squeaked that he was “disappointed.” During the Citizens United proceedings, the Chamber hired lawyers and filed an amicus brief to help argue in favor of striking down McCain’s reforms. Now, as both Democrats and some Republicans have come together to propose sweeping new laws aimed at adding disclosure to corporate and union campaign advertising after Citizens United, the Chamber is again promising a grueling fight.
As ThinkProgress has reported, the Chamber is the biggest front group fighting financial reform — pushing the elimination of consumer protections from the bill and even fighting the bill’s “fundamentals.” The Chamber is funded by some of the world’s largest corporations, including banks like CitiGroup, which were bailed out by taxpayers and still have not repaid the TARP funds.