In the past few days, as the economic crisis has deepened, Senator John McCain has been decrying the excesses of Wall Street. At a campaign rally in Tampa on Tuesday, he vowed that he and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, if elected, "are going to put an end to the reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed that have caused a crisis on Wall Street." He noted that the "foundation of our economy...has been put at risk by the greed and mismanagement of Wall Street and Washington."
He blasted CEOs who "seem to escape the consequences." He denounced Wall Streeters who "dreamed up investment schemes that they themselves don't even understand" and who used "derivatives, credit default swaps, and mortgage-backed securities" to try "to make their own rules." He excoriated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for gaming the system. And he slammed financial industry lobbyists for misguiding members of Congress. "I can promise you the days of dealing and special favors will soon be over in Washington." On Wednesday morning, after the federal government committed $85 billion to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG) insurance conglomerate, McCain again assailed irresponsible corporate executives. "We need to change the way Washington and Wall Street does business," he proclaimed.
McCain has been quick with fiery, populist-tinged speeches. But one thing has been missing: any acknowledgment that McCain's own campaign has been loaded with the type of people he's been denouncing. (The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment; we will update the post if they do.) As Mother Jones previously reported, former Senator Phil Gramm, McCain's onetime campaign chairman, used a backroom maneuver in late 2000 to slip into law a bill that kept credit default swaps unregulated. These financial instruments greased the way to the subprime meltdown that has led to today's economic crisis. Several of McCain's most senior campaign aides have lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And the Democratic National Committee, using publicly available records, has identified 177 lobbyists working for the McCain campaign as either aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers.
Of those 177 lobbyists, according to a Mother Jones review of Senate and House records, at least 83 have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks. These are high-paid influence-peddlers who have been working the corridors of the nation's capital to win favors and special treatment for investment banks, securities firms, hedge funds, accounting outfits, and insurance companies. Their clients have included AIG, the newest symbol of corporate excess; Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday sending the stock market into a tailspin; Merrill Lynch, which was bought out by Bank of America this week; and Washington Mutual, the banking giant that could be the next to fall. Among these 83 lobbyists are McCain's chief political adviser, Charlie Black (JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, Mortgage Bankers Association of America); McCain's national finance co-chairman, Wayne Berman (AIG, Blackstone, Credit Suisse, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac); the campaign's congressional liaison, John Green (Carlyle Group, Citigroup, Icahn Associates, Fannie Mae); McCain's veep vetter, Arthur Culvahouse (Fannie Mae); and McCain's transition planning chief, William Timmons Sr. (Citigroup, Freddie Mac, Vanguard Group).
When cable news shows air footage of McCain railing against greedy execs and the lobbyists who rig the rules for the benefit of Wall Street dealmakers, there ought to be a crawl beneath him listing these lobbyists. (Talk about a fair and balanced presentation.) Short of that, here's the list of the McCain aides and bundlers who have worked for the high-finance greed-mongers McCain has pledged to take on. So far, it seems, none of them have been cast out of the campaign. If McCain were serious about his outrage, he might throw these money-changers out of his own temple.