DNC - Ralph and Randy Strip the Veneer Off McCain's Reformer Rhetoric

Amid Rumors Former Abramoff Crony Won't Attend Fundraiser, his Fundraising Help to Benefit McCain

Washington, DC -- On the same day John McCain bragged about how proud he is of the lobbyists running his campaign, McCain is accepting campaign cash raised by one of the central figures in the culture of corruption surrounding a convicted lobbyist.  According to published reports, the chair of McCain's Georgia fundraising committee asked Ralph Reed, a central figure in the scandals surrounding disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff,to help raise money for today's fundraiser in Atlanta. Reed then asked his friends to send money to McCain in an email in which Reed  advertised himself as a member of John McCain's Victory 2008 team.  While Ralph Reed may not attend tonight's event, McCain has ignored criticism from nonpartisan watchdog groups who called on him to cancel tonight's fundraiser altogether. McCain's campaign has also ducked questions about what role Reed is playing in McCain's campaign why McCain is accepting money steered his way by Reed. [The Hill, 8/13/08]

Today's fundraiser comes on the same day that McCain defended the lobbyist Jack Abramoff's law firm hired to defend itself in the wake of the Abramoff scandal.  McCain told the USA Today that he is "proud" that his top foreign policy advisor--Randy Scheunemann--has a history of lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, including the Georgian government.  McCain said he is "so proud that so many of my friends have" supported Georgia, even though independent nonpartisan watchdog groups have been raising questions about the conflict of interest presented by Scheunemann's dual role as both a lobbyist and a campaign advisor.  [USA Today, 8/18/08] 

"The John McCain who bragged about cracking down on lobbyists and corruption in 2000 wouldn't even consider voting for the John McCain who is accepting money raised by one of the central figures in the Republican culture of corruption and brags about how proud he is of the lobbyists running his campaign," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera.  "John McCain likes to call himself a reformer on the campaign trail but the facts show McCain is just another Washington insider playing the same old broken politics. No matter how you cut it, John McCain cannot be counted on to bring change to Washington."

The following are some of the key questions that John McCain and his campaign have refused to answer about Ralph Reed and Randy Scheunemann: 

1. Ralph Reed's email said he is a member of the McCain Victory 2008 team.  Is he or is he not a member of the Victory 2008 team?  If not, what role is Reed playing to help elect John McCain?

2. Ralph Reed told The Hill that John McCain's Georgia finance chair Jamie Reynolds III asked Reed to help raise money for today's event. Is that true?

3. Once Reed's role in today's fundraiser came to light, why didn't McCain cancel the event and promise to return any money raised by Ralph Reed?

4. Why didn't John McCain's Senate committee investigation into the Abramoff scandal call Ralph Reed to testify when his own investigation showed that Reed was a central figure in Abramoff's pay-to-play scheme?

5. If John McCain isn't worried about the conflict of interest presented when lobbyists like Randy Scheunemann advise his campaign, why did he implement a new conflict of interest policy earlier this year?

6. Was it just a coincidence that, on the same day Randy's Scheunemann's two-person lobbying group signed a new $200,000 contract with the Georgian government, McCain spoke to the President of Georgia and issued a statement strongly supporting the Georgian government's position?