On February 15, we sent a letter to Senator Barack Obama urging him to keep his promise to opt-in to the Presidential Public Financing system if he were the Democratic nominee, and the Republican nominee also used public funds. The likely Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, has agreed to these terms, but a spokesperson for the Obama campaign recently made a statement that conflicts with the committment made by Senator Obama.
Read Obama’s response printed in USA Today:
Both sides must agree
I will seek a good faith pact that results in real spending limits.
In 2007, shortly after I became a candidate for president, I asked
the Federal Election Commission to clear any regulatory obstacles to a
publicly funded general election in 2008 with real spending limits. The
commission did that. But this cannot happen without the agreement of
the parties’ eventual nominees. As I have said, I will aggressively
pursue such an agreement if I am my party’s nominee.
I do not expect that a workable, effective agreement will be reached overnight. The campaign-finance laws are complex, and filled with loopholes that can render meaningless any agreement that is not solidly constructed.
As USA TODAY has critically observed, outside groups have come to spend tens of millions of dollars "independently," while the candidates they favor with these ads "wink and nod" at this activity. There is an even greater risk of this runaway, sham independent spending now that the Supreme Court has wrongly opened the door to more of it in a recent decision.
I propose a meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits. The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement. And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Senator McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues.
In l996, an agreement on spending limits was reached by Sen. John Kerry and Gov. William Weld in their Massachusetts Senate contest. They agreed to limits on overall and personal spending and on a mechanism to account for outside spending. The agreement did not accomplish all these candidates hoped, but they believe that it made a substantial difference in controlling outside groups as well as their own spending.
We can have such an agreement this year, and it could hold up. I am committed to seeking such an agreement ? if that commitment is matched by Senator McCain. When the time comes, we will talk and our commitment will be tested.
I will pass that test, and I hope that the Republican nominee passes his.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is seeking his party’s presidential nomination.