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McCain Lobbyist Troubles Continue

A pair of stories from The New York Times reveal Sen. John McCain has not divorced himself from lobbyists as much as his presidential campaign would have you believe. The first story, which appeared Sunday, reveals that both McCain and his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, have received campaign contributions from lobbyists — but McCain has received about 30 times more money than Obama. From The Times:

In total, lobbyists and trade groups have reported giving about $10.4 million to presidential and Congressional candidates in the first half of this year.

So far, Mr. McCain, who has locked up the Republican presidential nomination, has received more than $181,600 from lobbyists and trade groups, while Mr. Obama has received just over $6,000. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who ended her bid for the presidency in June, got more than $87,000.

Today’s New York Times features a front-page article detailing how the International Republican Institute — a democracy-promoting organization affiliated with the Republican Party and chaired by McCain since 1993 — has functioned as "a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman." The Times’ article does not make any specific allegations of wrong-doing, but it does note that the IRI’s board of directors is rife with lobbyists, and "seven directors and the president have roles in Mr. McCain’s campaign." Among those active in the campaign is Peter Madigan, a McCain fund-raiser whose firm lobbies on behalf of several foreign governments, including Colombia. McCain has been an ardent supporter of a free-trade agreement between the United States and Colombia, which is currently tied up in Congress.

Randy Scheunemann — McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser — also sits on IRI’s board of directors. From the article:

Until March, [Scheunemann] was registered as a lobbyist for several foreign governments, and he represented the government of Georgia last January when the institute sent election monitors there. Since joining the institute in 2004, Mr. Scheunemann has spoken with Mr. McCain or his Senate aides at least 42 times on behalf of his foreign lobbying clients, Justice Department records show.

On the campaign trail, McCain denounces the influence of special interests in Washington on a daily basis. In May, after coming under fire from the Obama campaign, McCain instituted new rules regarding the activities of lobbyists working for his campaign — causing at least five of McCain’s high-profile advisers to resign. It appears he still has a long way to go to reduce the influence of lobbyists in his own campaign — let alone in Washington.

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