DNC - Another Day, Another Lobbying Scandal For McCain Campaign

Washington, DC - As John McCain's campaign continues its false and misleading attempts to spin away a widening lobbying scandal, the USA Today revealed that yet another member of McCain's inner circle was lobbying on the campaign trail. According to the report, as recently as November 2007, McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was lobbying McCain's Senate office on behalf of his foreign clients in the same week he was representing the Senator on the campaign trail.  [USA Today, 5/21/08]

Not only did a campaign spokesperson refuse to answer questions about Scheunemann's lobbying--except to say the campaign's new conflict of interest policy was not retroactive--but McCain's top aides have been misleading the public on the role of other lobbyists in McCain's inner circle.  Senior advisor Charlie Black said he has never lobbied candidates he's worked for and adhered to the campaign now conflict of interest policy "before there even was a rule." In reality, Black lobbied the Bush administration while he advised the campaign in 2004 and actually admitted he had lobbied from the back of the McCain campaign bus earlier this year.  Black also claimed that campaign manager Rick Davis had stopped lobbying years ago, even though Davis was setting up meetings between John McCain and Davis's overseas clients as recently as August 2006. [New York Times, 5/20/08]

"While John McCain talks about cleaning up Washington on the campaign trail, back at headquarters, his campaign advisors seem to have no problem lying about their lobbying backgrounds," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney.  "John McCain and his campaign aides may think that lobbying reform is 'inside the beltway nonsense,' but the American people don't want another four years of an administration that's willing to outsource its policies to lobbyists and mislead them for political gain.  The more voters learn about John McCain the more they will see he is just not the right choice for America's future."

Randy Scheunemann Represents Clients and Campaign

McCain Foreign Policy Advisory Lobbied Senate Office for Foreign Clients. And today USA Today reports that Randy Scheunemann, McCain's top advisor and spokesman on foreign policy issues, lobbied McCain's Senate staff on behalf of the Republic of Georgia while working on the campaign.  This is yet another example of the revolving door McCain has set up for lobbyists on his campaign. [USA Today, 5/21/08]

Nov. 2007: Scheunemann Lobbied Senate Aide in Same Week He Hit Campaign Trail.  "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…. 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." [USA Today, 5/21/08]

Campaign: New Conflict Policy Not Retroactive, Won't Comment on Scheunemann's Lobbying.  "The new conflict-of-interest policy prohibits campaign workers from being registered lobbyists or foreign agents and bans part-time volunteers from policy discussions on issues involving their clients.  Campaign spokesman Jill Hazelbaker said the ethics policy is not retroactive. She declined to answer any questions about Scheunemann. 'This campaign has a policy; it's the most stringent of any presidential campaign in history, and everyone will have to comply or resign, but we're not going to discuss any individual staff members and their individual decisions,' she said in an e-mail." [USA Today, 5/21/08]

Charlie Black Lied About his Own Lobbying...

Black Says He Never Lobbied Candidate He Works For. "Charlie Black, a senior adviser for the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), told reporters Monday that he never lobbies candidates for whom he's working. 'I have personally had a policy that, if I'm working in somebody's campaign that I do not lobby they and their staff, since 1984,' Black said, as reported by The New York Times." [Politico.com, 5/20/08: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10470.html]

  • But Black Worked for and Lobbied Bush and Cheney. "Black served as an informal adviser to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004.  Lobbying filings show that in 2003 and 2004, Black's firm lobbied the Defense Department, State Department and Executive Office of the President on behalf of the Fluor Corp., a U.S. contractor in Iraq. And the filings show that in 2004, Black's firm lobbied the Executive Office of the President on behalf of Occidental Petroleum Corp. on Middle East trade and energy issues." [Politico.com, 5/20/08: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10470.html]

Black Claims to Have Adhered to No-Lobbying Rule Before There Even Was One.  "Black said he complied with the policy "before there even was a rule." Black said he has no income from either his firm or the campaign but joked about an allowance from his wife, Judy Black, who is a lobbyist." [Wall Street Journal, 5/19/08: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/05/19/top-mccain-adviser-defends-his-lobbyist-past/]

  • FLASHBACK: Charlie Black Lobbied from the Back of the Campaign Bus; Black Slow to Relinquish Lobbyist Job, Despite Working as McCain Senior Advisor. Many McCain campaign advisers have been slow - or have simply failed - to relinquish their lobbying roles, such as Charlie Black, who despite being a fixture on the Straight Talk Express through late 2007 and early 2008, only relinquished his role at BKSH in early April 2008. "Suffice it to say," wrote the Washington Post, all of McCain's lobbyist advisers, "have a stake in the legislation that McCain will work on, even if he continues to be merely a senior senator on Capitol Hill." [Washington Post, 11/20/07; US News & World Reports, 5/28/07; The Hill, 3/8/06; The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder, 3/27/08]
  • Charlie Black Admitted Lobbying From the Straight Talk Express.  "But even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member. Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus." [Washington Post, 2/22/08]

...Then He Misled On Rick Davis

Black Says No One At Rick Davis's Firm has been Registered to Lobby in Five Years.  One issue that isn't clear is the nature of Mr. Davis's private-sector work before he joined the McCain campaign. Mr. Black told reporters that neither Mr. Davis nor anyone else at his firm "has been a registered lobbyist in five years." The campaign later said it was three years. [Wall Street Journal, 5/20/08: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121124225499205475.html?mod=special_page_campaign2008_topbox]

  • Davis's Firm Specializes in Type of Lobbying that Doesn't Require Them to Register: "But while Mr. Davis took a leave from 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." [New York Times, 5/20/08: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/20/us/politics/20mccain.html?pagewanted=print]
  • Davis Arranged McCain Meetings With Foreign Clients While Serving As Campaign Advisor As Recently as August 2006.  "Seven months later, in August 2006, Davis was present again at a social gathering that was also attended by McCain and Deripaska, this time in Montenegro, another Eastern European country in which Davis's firm was working. The three were among a few dozen people dining at a restaurant during an official Senate trip. Davis was a paid consultant to the governing party in Montenegro and had advised it on a just-ratified independence referendum, Salter said." [Washington Post, 1/25/08: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/24/AR2008012403383_pf.html]
  • Davis Arranged Meetings With McCain and Russian Oligarch: "Rick Davis, who is now McCain's campaign manager, helped set up the encounter between McCain and Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska in Switzerland during an international economic conference. At the time, Davis was working for a lobbying firm and seeking to do business with the billionaire." [Washington Post, 1/25/08: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/24/AR2008012403383_pf.html]
  • Russian Oligarch Linked to McCain Fundraiser in London: "John McCain is on a world tour, and after flunking Middle East Politics 101 on the Jordan leg of his trip, he's now on his way to London, where his campaign will hold a fundraising event. (For American citizens only as foreigners can't contribute.) Proper attire for the luncheon affair is "lounge wear," according to the Washington Post, which also reported that the event will be held at Spencer House on St. James's Place, 'by kind permission' of Lord Rothschild and Nathaniel Rothschild. The latter 'may become the richest Rothschild of them all,' according to a profile last year in the New York Times. The story said Nathaniel Rothschild was 'close to becoming a billionaire through a web of private equity investments' in Eastern Europe, and that he was 'a principal adviser to Oleg Deripaska, one of the richest oligarchs in Russia.'  Indeed, the Daily Mail has said that Rothschild's wealth had 'been accrued in his role as the adviser to' Deripaska." [Harpers Magazine online, 3/19/08: http://harpers.org/archive/2008/03/hbc-90002695]
  • Russian Oligarch Stripped of US Visa:  "About eight months after the meeting, the State Department revoked Deripaska's visa to the United States, due to concerns that he may have amassed his wealth illegally. That's embarrassing to the Russian, and he's hoping to reverse his ban on entry to this country, which he blames on 'stupid and ignorant bureaucrats.'" [Harpers Magazine online, 3/19/08: http://harpers.org/archive/2008/03/hbc-90002695]
  • Deripaska: Hoping Next President Will Reinstate His Visa.  "During one interview last fall, Deripaska said, 'Maybe I'll get the visa when the next (U.S.) administration comes in.'" [Harpers Magazine online, 3/19/08: http://harpers.org/archive/2008/03/hbc-90002695]

Black: Davis Has Not Taken Any Money From Firm Since 2006.  "Mr. Black also defended Mr. Davis, saying the campaign manager had not taken any money from his lobbying firm since 2006. The two men are working on an unpaid basis for the campaign." [New York Times, 5/20/08]

REALITY: Campaign Paid Davis's Firm $90,000 for "Communications Consulting." According to campaign filings with the Federal Elections Commission (obtained through Congressional Quarterly's Moneyline), the McCain campaign paid Davis Manafort Inc., Rick Davis's lobbying firm, a total of $90,000 from January to July 2007 for "communications consulting." [McCain 2008 FEC Data via CQ Moneyline, accessed 5/20/08