Friday, August 05, 2005

How's this for the pot calling the kettle black 

U.S. Senator John McCain is slamming the Venezuelan government for not wanting to allow outside funding for political campaigns:

Leading U.S. senator John McCain has written to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asking him to stop the prosecution of four opposition election rights campaigners who face trial for receiving U.S. funds.

A Venezuelan judge this month ordered four members of the Sumate group tried for conspiracy after they helped organize a referendum against Chavez last year and received funds from the U.S. Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In the letter addressed to Chavez, McCain joined former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and NED board chairman Vin Weber to describe the criminal prosecution as a "grave threat to democracy" in Venezuela.

"We are deeply concerned by this effort to persecute citizens for exercising their constitutional rights by making it a crime to receive NED funding," stated the letter, which the NED said was handed into Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on Wednesday.

"To criminalize the receipt of such assistance, as the case of Sumate does... constitutes a grave threat to democracy in Venezuela," said the letter, a copy of which was provided by NED.

So John McCain, who has made campaign finance reform the central theme of his efforts in the U.S. Senate thinks the Venezuelan opposition has a constitutional right to get funding from the U.S. Hmmm. Does he think Al Gore and Bill Clinton had a Constitutional right to get funding from the Chinese? And I wonder what he'd think if Ralph Nader were to have his next presidential bid funded by, say, the Russians? Ironic that he would use this phrasing as the opponents of spending limits in U.S. elections have always argued it is un-constitutional as it limits freedom of speech. So McCain now agrees with them?

Or maybe his interest in fair elections free of domination by outside special interests stops at the Rio Grande


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