McCain files FEC complaint over TV ad run by Bush supporters
NEW YORK (CNN) --
John McCain's presidential campaign Monday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about a TV ad being run by "Republicans for Clean Air," a name being used by Texas software billionaires Sam and Charles Wyly.
The McCain campaign also urged the Federal Communications Commission to take action, saying the ads should not be run until a disclaimer is attached, identifying the Wylys as the sponsors.
"We hope the Commission takes strong action against this type of deceptive communications practice that is contrary to the public interest and corrupting our political process," McCain deputy campaign manager Roy Fletcher wrote the FCC.
The request comes just a day before the crucial Super Tuesday primaries.
The Wylys, Dallas-based longtime supporters of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, have spent $2.5 million to place the ads attacking McCain's environmental record and supporting Bush on TV stations in the big Super Tuesday primary states of California, New York and Ohio during the past week.
The two made a lot of their money from their company Sterling Software, which they sold recently for $4.4 billion to Computer Associates.
Charles Wyly is a member of George W. Bush's Pioneers, a group whose members are committed to raising at least $100,000 apiece for the presidential campaign.
The McCain campaign contends that Sam Wyly is an authorized fund-raiser for the Bush campaign and therefore not eligible to finance a so-called "independent issue" ad.
If the FEC rules against the Wylys, the McCain camp says they could be fined as much as $2.5 million.
The McCain camp asked the FCC to make an emergency declaration that the ad violates an election advertisement law that says a sponsor must be identified with the ad.
Members of the FCC met Monday evening to review the complaint, but no decision was made.
FCC spokeswoman Joy Howell said the McCain request "presumably will still be under discussion tomorrow." Fifteen stations and networks have asked the FCC for guidance.
"While we have no authority to tell broadcasters to take the ads off the air, we have advised broadcasters of their general obligation to identify the sponsor of any advertisements aired by their stations," said Howell.
For its part, McCain released a response ad Monday in New York, touting his environmental record and saying, "The Sierra Club said it best, 'Praising George Bush on clean air is like thanking John Rocker for his contribution to civil rights.' "