McCain's other lobbyist connections

With the Vicki Iseman story opening the way, the Washington Post looks at the lobbyists running John McCain's presidential campaign.

Published February 22, 2008 3:35PM (EST)

The story of John McCain's possible relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman may not prove to have traction on its own. That said, it seems as if the story may have opened the door to discussion of McCain's deep ties to lobbyists generally. The Washington Post fronted with a story on those connections Friday. Just the first three paragraphs could be damaging to a candidate like McCain, who has typically held himself up as above lobbying:

For years, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has railed against lobbyists and the influence of "special interests" in Washington, touting on his campaign Web site his fight against "the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided."

But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae.

There are more details in the article. "McCain's reliance on lobbyists for key jobs -- both in the Senate and in his presidential campaign -- extends beyond his inner circle," the Post says, mentioning McCain's top fundraising official, his Senate chief of staff and 59 bundlers (individuals who collect campaign contributions from others). Those 59 lobbyist bundlers, the Post says, are the most of any presidential campaign.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.