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Kept Flyboy McCain


St McCain has been riding in Cindy’s plane since his campaign went bust last summer.

Mr. McCain’s cash-short campaign gave itself an advantage by using a corporate jet owned by a company headed by his wife, Cindy McCain, according to public records. For five of those months, the plane was used almost exclusively for campaign-related purposes, those records show.

Of course, in patented McMaverick fashion, when he was asked just before he started using her plane whether he would tap his wife’s vast fortune to give his struggling campaign a little lift, he responded (I am sure huffily, but the quote doesn’t say):

“I have never thought about it,” Mr. McCain was quoted by The Arizona Republic as saying at a July appearance. “I would never do such a thing, so I wouldn’t know what the legalities are.”

I guess that makes this report old news.

(Besides, it’s in The New York Times. I’m surprised they didn’t spice up the report with a photo of Vicki Iseman, for old times’ sake.)

The senator was able to fly so inexpensively because the law specifically exempts aircraft owned by a candidate or his family or by a privately held company they control. The Federal Election Commission adopted rules in December to close the loophole — rules that would have required substantial payments by candidates using family-owned planes — but the agency soon lost the requisite number of commissioners needed to complete the rule making.

That Hans Von Spakowsky nomination to the FEC is making more and more sense, isn’t it? The FEC stand-down seems to benefit St McCain with every passing day. How much benefit?

The McCain campaign turned to using the jet last August, a time when it faced mounting debts and the possibility of financial collapse. It stopped doing so in March, those records indicate. During the first half of 2007, a time when Mr. McCain’s campaign did not use his wife’s jet, it paid out over $1.04 million for travel on noncommercial planes, F.E.C. records indicate. Over the second half of the year, when that jet was used almost constantly for campaign-related purposes, his campaign’s total spending for noncommercial flying was about one-half that much, or $542,160, those records suggest.

Not a lot of change to Hundred-Millionaire Cindy McCain, but more than beer money to St McCain’s campaign, which was running on fumes the second half of 2007. Jet fuel fumes, as it turns out. His wife’s jet fuel fumes.

For five of those months, the plane was used almost exclusively for campaign-related purposes, those records show.

That means the plane was deployed as a campaign asset. Not simply sent on a run now and then. So where did all those "McCain flies coach" stories come from last year? (h/t atrios}

I wonder if Cindy knows about this part of the "can I borrow your airplane, trollop?" scam?

Jan Baran, a Republican lawyer in Washington who specializes in election law, said Mrs. McCain or her company would be likely to face substantial tax consequences for the plane’s campaign-related use because such campaign-related business costs were not tax deductible.

Maybe we need to see Cindy’s 2007 tax returns after all, to be sure she’s accounted correctly for lending her plane to her flyboy.

Update: Emptywheel thinks so too. Josh Orton points out that McCain is breaking two campaign pledges at once. Howie thinks it’s simply another example of McCain making rules for the rest of us.

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