McCain: “I see dead donors”

GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, admits he’s been having trouble raising cash but reaching beyond the grave for contributions seems excessive.

A fundraising letter arrived today in the newsroom of the Contra Costa Times addressed to Margaret Lesher, inviting her to join the Patriot’s Circle, a high-level group of campaign insiders. Members who contribute $100 or more will receive a copy of a limited edition commemorative series of three photographs of McCain that depict his service the Navy and the Senate and his family.

Lesher has little use for commemorative pictures or, for that matter, a United States president.

As locals will remember, Lesher died of a tragic drowning in May 1997 in an Arizona lake. She was connected to the Times because she was the wife of the newspaper’s late owner, Dean Lesher.

A McCain campaign spokeman said, “We apologize for the mistake. It was a flawed list and we’re working to remedy the situation immediately.”

This is far from the first time that a campaign has mailed solicitations to deceased folks.

All campaigns from presidential to congressional to state and local races typically rent address lists compiled by outside companies. Mailing lists are notoriously flawed because people move, change their party registrations or die every day. It’s impossible for the campaigns to check every name, especially for national or statewide races.

But this seems like a pretty bad list.

Not only has Lesher been dead 10 years but died in McCain’s own state of Arizona. And she hasn’t used the newspaper as a mailing address since 1995, when the Leshers sold the newspaper to Knight-Ridder.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen