McCain’s Billion Dollar Lobbyists
According to a new analysis by Campaign Money Watch, an officially nonpartisan but left-leaning campaign finance watchdog group, lobbyists with ties to Sen. John McCain’s campaign have taken in nearly $1 billion from U.S. customers in the last 10 years. From the Campaign Money Watch press release:
Campaign Money Watch, a non-partisan campaign finance watchdog group, announced today the result of a new analysis of the fees Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) lobbyist bundlers, advisers and staff members have collected from domestic clients over the past decade.
The total? A staggering $930,949,819.
“The McCain campaign relies on big money lobbyists, and they’ll rely on him,” said David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. “In the ‘you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours’ world of Washington, $931 million gets the special interests the best government money can buy. But just think of the payday these lobbyists might expect in a McCain administration.”
Campaign Money Watch’s analysis of data provided by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org) also found that employees and Political Action Committees of these lobbyists’ clients have donated $11,750,051 to McCain’s campaigns, a fact that raises its own set of problems, Donnelly said.
“How can John McCain say he’ll reduce the influence of special interests in Washington, when he’s so fully dependent on lobbyists and their clients to finance his campaign?” Donnelly asked. “All candidates need to raise money, but is this exemplary of a candidate who claims he’ll tackle the special interests?”
On the campaign trail, McCain regularly vows to end the influence of special interests in Washington. However, his own campaign has frequently come under fire for its ties to lobbyists. The Washington Post today reports that a lobbying firm by headed Randy Scheunemann, a senior foreign-policy adviser to the McCain campaign, was working on behalf of the Georgian government while Scheunemann advised McCain on matters related to the former Soviet republic — raising questions about McCain’s aggressive posturing during the country’s current conflict with Russia.
In May, the campaign instituted new rules prohibiting current registered lobbyists from working directly for the campaign — prompting five high-level campaign advisers to resign. Last week, Campaign Money Watch launched a Website that tracks the fund-raising of 40 lobbyists — and their clients — in McCain’s orbit. These new numbers suggest McCain’s efforts to reduce the presence and influence of lobbyists in his campaign may have been mostly cosmetic.