Monday, March 24, 2008

McCain's Lobbyist Hypocrisy

By Cernig

McCain says he wants lobbyists out of politics while employing a whole bunch of them in key campaign positions. Whodathunkit?
Republican presidential candidate John McCain has condemned the influence of "special interest lobbyists," yet dozens of lobbyists have political and financial ties to his presidential campaign — particularly from telecommunications companies, an industry he helps oversee in the Senate.

Of the 66 current or former lobbyists working for the Arizona senator or raising money for his presidential campaign, 23 have lobbied for telecommunications companies in the past decade, Senate lobbying disclosures show.

McCain has netted about $765,000 in political donations from those telecom lobbyists, their spouses, colleagues at their firms and their telecom clients during the past decade, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign-finance records shows.

It's unclear how much more money those lobbyists have raised for McCain. Eighteen of them are listed by the campaign as "bundlers," which are major fundraisers. McCain doesn't disclose how much each bundler has raised — unlike Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who categorize their bundlers by the amount they raise.
McCain is the top recipient of campaign donations from telecom companies in this election cycle with $165,000 and received another $400,000 from internet companies and $453,000 from lobbyists so far.

McCain's been a vocal supporter of telecoms and internet companies in his position as a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the telecom industry and the Federal Communications Commission.
He has repeatedly pushed industry-backed legislation since 2000, particularly during a second stint as committee chairman from 2003 through 2005. His efforts to eliminate taxes and regulations on telecommunications services won him praise from industry executives.
And there certainly seems to be a link between his support for the industry and his campaign team:
People who lobbied for telecom companies on those issues include McCain's campaign manager, his deputy manager, his finance chief, his top unpaid political adviser and his Senate chief of staff. Telecom companies have paid the lobbying firms that employed those top five McCain advisersmore than $4.4 million since 1999, lobbying records show.
The McCain campaign, of course, denies that he does favors in return for campaign back-scratching. But given those facts that denial looks very slim. It appears to be a case of "do what I say, not what I do".

I know it won't get as much attention, but it could be argued that the revelation of these lobbyist connections should be even more damaging than the recent uproar over "Obama's pastor". After all, what can Obama do even if he secretly agrees with Wright ( a highly doubtful proposition to begin with) - pack his cabinet with white-hating zealots? But if McCain packs his cabinet and the White House with revolving-door lobbyists it actually could (and probably would) affect government policy. Closing the revolving door being lobbying and government, which has led to so much corruption and mutual back-scratching, is one of the things McCain is supposed to stand for - but his choice of campaign team says otherwise.

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