2 comments May 21st, 2008at 08:20pm Posted by Eli
It just gets better and better. Let’s look at the sequence of events:
1989: McCain is exposed as a member of the corrupt Keating Five.
1994: McCain rehabilitates his image by transforming himself into a Campaign Finance Crusader.
1996: McCain introduces a bill that would prohibit candidates from hiring lobbyists.
2002: McCain-Feingold passes. McCain loses interest in campaign finance reform.
2007-8: McCain fills his campaign staff with lobbyists, which would have been illegal had his 1996 bill passed.
May 2008: McCain rediscovers his ethics, and very selectively purges lobbyists from his campaign.
But here’s the beauty part: Even though McCain violated what was supposedly his own standard for hiring campaign staff only to rediscover it very recently when his lobbyist-ridden campaign staff became an embarrassment, his ethics policy is not retroactive:
John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser lobbied the Arizona senator’s staff on behalf of the republic of Georgia while he was working for the campaign, public records show.
Randy Scheunemann, founder of Orion Strategies, represented the governments of Macedonia, Georgia and Taiwan between 2003 and March 1, according to the firm’s filings with the Justice Department. In its latest semiannual report, the firm disclosed that Scheunemann had a phone conversation in November about Georgia with Richard Fontaine, an aide in McCain’s Senate office.
Orion Strategies earned $540,000 from its foreign clients over the year ending on Dec. 1, reports show. Scheunemann also received $56,250 last year from March to July from McCain, according to campaign finance records.
The campaign consulting fees ended at a time when McCain was under financial pressure to cut costs, but Scheunemann remained the campaign’s top foreign policy adviser. He represented McCain throughout last fall — including an appearance at a Republican Jewish Coalition event during the same week he lobbied McCain’s Senate office.
Campaign spokesman Jill Hazelbaker said the ethics policy is not retroactive. She declined to answer any questions about Scheunemann….
So apparently McCain’s ethics are purely situational. He’ll make a big show of integrity when his image becomes tarnished and he needs to rehabilitate it, but it’s clear that he doesn’t really believe in it. He weasels on lobbyists, he ignored public primary financing restrictions he was never released from, he refuses to release his ultrarich wife’s tax returns, and he’s got a creative sweetheart deal with the RNC to significantly supplement his public funding in the general election.
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, Mr. Straight Talk is a colossal phony. Obama gets it:
…John McCain has agreed with me on some of the steps we need to make our government more ethical and accountable. Almost a decade ago, he offered a bill that, in his words, would ban a candidate from paying registered lobbyists. Let me repeat that. This — ten years ago, John McCain offered a bill that said he would ban a candidate from paying registered lobbyists. And he did this because he said that having lobbyists on your campaign was a conflict of interest. This is what he said ten years ago.
Well, I’ll tell you that John McCain then would be pretty disappointed with John McCain now, because he hired some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington to run his campaign. And when he was called on it, his top lobbyists actually had the nerve to say, “The American people won’t care about this.”
I had actually been thinking that it might be an interesting rhetorical device for Obama to repeatedly state his agreement with, and even admiration for, McCain 2000, and then contrast him with McCain 2008. I was mainly thinking about it for the debates, ‘cuz I suspect it would make McCain blow a gasket, which we need to see as often as possible.