Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

No "millionaires" boost for Cantwell, FEC says

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A $2 million loan by U.S. Senate challenger Mike McGavick to his own campaign does not trigger a "millionaires' amendment" that would allow Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell to raise more money, the Federal Election Commission ruled today.

The FEC's decision means that Cantwell will have to abide by normal campaign finance laws, at least until the Sept. 19 primary.

In a unanimous decision, the FEC said the so-called millionaires' amendment — which lifts campaign donation limits for anyone facing a candidate who self-finances a campaign — applies only to McGavick's Republican primary opponents, not Cantwell.

But the FEC said money donated by either Cantwell or McGavick to their respective primary campaigns could help trigger the millionaires' amendment, if the money is used in the general election campaign. Both Cantwell and McGavick are expected to win easy victories for their party's nomination.

The election commission did not specify how pre-primary donations would be counted in the fall campaign, but said "Senator Cantwell and Mr. McGavick must use a reasonable accounting method to determine the amount of personal funds available for use in the general election."

The decision was a setback for Cantwell, who had argued that McGavick, a wealthy former CEO of Safeco Safeco Insurance Co., could spend up to $10 million to finance his election challenge.

Ironically, that figure is the amount that Cantwell, a high-tech millionaire, contributed to her campaign in 2000, when she upset then-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. Much of the money was in loans that were later repaid to Cantwell, whose personal wealth has declined significantly in recent years as the stock of her former company, RealNetworks, has plunged.

The millionaires' amendment, adopted in 2002, did not apply to the 2000 election.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


Get home delivery today!