DNC - GAO Recommends Reopening Bidding on McCain's "Fair" Tanker Deal That Sent US Jobs Abroad

Washington, DC - John McCain has spent months defending himself from charges that he weighed in on behalf of his lobbyist friends to steer a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract toward a European defense contractor. Despite the fact that seven of his top strategists and fundraisers lobbied for the company, Senator McCain insisted that he "had nothing to do with the contract, except to insist in writing, on several occasions, as this process went forward, that it be fair and open and transparent." In reality, Senator McCain intervened at key steps in the process, echoing the arguments of the EADS/Airbus consortium each time.  [AP, 3/11/08; Washington Times, 6/10/08: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/jun/10/gripe-filed-over-mccains-lobbying-ties/ ]

Today, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress found major errors in the bidding process and recommended that the Air Force reopen the contract and accept revised bidding. The General Accounting Office concluded that "the Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome" and "conducted misleading and unequal discussions with Boeing." [Washington Business Journal, 6/18/08]

"Now that the GAO has found that the tanker deal was not the 'open' and 'transparent' process he claimed to be seeking, Senator McCain has a responsibility to stand up for America's working families and insist the Air Force reopen the bidding on this tanker," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. "After siding with his lobbyist friends in helping steer tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs overseas the last time around, Senator McCain has an opportunity to do the right thing now. Given his history of promoting policies that outsource American jobs, we're not holding our breath."

McCain Mimicked EADS Every Step of the Way

EADS on "Extra Features." EADS' team "has complained that a draft version of the request includes no criteria for measuring the competing planes' extra features - chief among them the ability to carry cargo and passengers in addition to fuel. Those added features are considered a key advantage" in winning the contract. [Mobile Register, 1/16/2007]

McCain on "Extra Features." McCain wrote to incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a letter that "echoed" the EADS complaints that the Pentagon was not planning to "effectively evaluate differences between the candidate aircraft's capability to execute key missions such as airlift and the number of passengers it can haul in addition to fuel." [Inside the Airforce, 2/2/2007]

EADS on European Subsidies.
In mid-2006, the EADS team "urged the Pentagon on Friday to drop a requirement that might favor Boeing 's rival drive to sell aerial-refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force" by taking into account a pending trade dispute on European government subsidies to EADS/Airbus. [Seattle Times, 6/10/2006]

McCain on European Subsidies. McCain "exchanged a volley of letters with Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England over the WTO issue. McCain says he's concerned that taking that matter into account will 'eliminate the competition even before bids are submitted.'" Ultimately, "the Air Force, under pressure from Mr. McCain, announced it was rewriting some of the rules" for the bid relating to WTO provisions. [Aviation Weekly, 10/2/06; NY Times, 12/26/2006]

EADS on Split Contracts: "Loren Thompson, a defence analyst at the Lexington Institute, said EADS had always assumed that the air force would not pursue a split purchase. But he said the company was lobbying Congress to urge the air force to consider giving it a portion of the contract." [Financial Times, 8/6/2007]

McCain on Split Contracts: In 2007, McCain joined with both Alabama Senators to introduce an amendment that defense analysis believed "could lead the Air Force to split the contract between the two bidders," Boeing and Northrop/EADS. [Mobile Register, 10/2/2007]

EADS on Fair and Open Contest:
The EADS team "in a statement, said it was looking forward to competing, but only if the competition were 'fair and open.'" [Tacoma (WA) News Tribune, 9/26/04]

McCain on Open and Fair Contest:
"All I can do is again say I will do everything in my power to make sure it is an open and fair competition." [Mobile Register, 1/16/07]

McCain Sponsored Amendment that Ended Defense Department's Buy America Requirement.
In May 2003, Senate Republicans voted for a McCain amendment that would allow the Defense Department to forego a requirement to purchase American-made equipment if that equipment was manufactured by Australia, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands or Spain. [Senate Vote 191, 5/21/03]