More McCain Staffers to Fall Due to Lobbying Connections?

| Tue May 20, 2008 3:05 PM EDT

mccain_closeup_250x200.jpg Today's New York Times advances the story of John McCain's myriad connections to lobbyists. First, new details on Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager. Davis is in charge of writing and enforcing the new 'no lobbying' policy that John McCain put into effect when he realized that his reformist campaign was staffed by a huge number of influence-peddlers. As you might have guessed, Davis was a lobbyist until two years ago and now finds a way to act as a lobbyist without registering as one:

...while Mr. Davis took a leave from [his firm] Davis Manafort in 2006, the company has developed a specialty in recent years in a type of lobbying for which firms do not have to register — namely, representing the interests abroad of foreign politicians and businessmen.
In recent years, the company's clients have included the richest man in Ukraine and a former premier of that country whose opponents were supported by Mr. McCain. The Washington Post reported in January that Mr. Davis also set up a meeting in Switzerland in 2006 between Mr. McCain and a Russian businessman, who has been barred from entering this country, apparently because of accusations about past ties to organized crime in Russia. That businessman, Oleg Deripaska, has denied such links.

Here's that Post story. Honest to God, Davis set up a meeting between a U.S. Senator and a Russian mobster because it was in the interest of his lobby shop. Now he's running that Senator's presidential campaign.

But the problem lies not just with McCain's top guys, Davis and senior adviser Charlie Black. Witness:

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Another senior McCain campaign aide who has lobbied on behalf of foreign governments over the past seven years is Randy Scheunemann, the chief foreign policy adviser.

Over the past several years, Mr. Scheunemann met several times with Mr. McCain to discuss his clients' interests. He introduced the senator to the foreign ministers of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia as they tried to win admission to NATO, and a representative of Taiwan as it lobbied for free trade, records show....

Wayne Berman, the campaign's deputy finance chairman, has lobbied for the governments of Cyprus and Trinidad and Tobago, along with many other corporate clients. Christian Ferry, who is a lobbyist for Mr. Davis's firm, is Mr. McCain's deputy campaign manager.

Susan Nelson, the finance director of the campaign, was as recently as last year a registered lobbyist for the Loeffler Group, for companies, including AT&T that have had business before Mr. McCain on the Commerce Committee. John Green, who has been reported to be coordinating the campaign's efforts with congressional Republicans, is registered as a lobbyist for Ogilvy Government Relations, Mr. Berman's firm. Carlos Bonilla, described by the McCain Web site as an economic adviser, is also a registered lobbyist.

The upside of all this is that the media-constructed myth of McCain as Washington's top reformer, a man with a hatred for lobbyists in his blood, has been exploded forever. Columnists can't rely on it anymore. The downside is that tonight's election results in the Democratic race will probably drown this news out once again.

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