More Lobbyist Ties in McCain Camp

Five top aides have resigned from Senator John McCain’s campaign due to ties to lobbyists. The most recent of these is Tom Loeffler, the national finance co-chairman of the McCain presidential campaign. Although John McCain’s platform is built on the rebuking of lobbyists and their influence, his campaign has been plagued by key personnel who are affiliatied or working for lobbying groups.

In an effort to respond to the growing concern over this, McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis demanded last week that all McCain personnel sever their ties with lobbyists, or resign.

Michael D. Shear of the Washington Post report, May 19, 2008:

McCain has built his reputation in Congress on fighting special interests and the lobbying culture, but he has been criticized for months about the number of lobbyists serving in key positions in his campaign. Until recently, his top political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., was the head of a Washington lobbying firm. Black retired in March from BKSH & Associates, the firm he helped found, to stay with the campaign. Davis ran a lobbying firm for several years but has said he is on leave from it.

Black, in particular, remains in the cross hairs of McCain’s critics. Campaign Money Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, yesterday praised Loeffler’s departure but renewed its call for Black’s departure. The group has launched a Web site,, to urge McCain to rid his campaign of their influence. Loeffler’s lobbying for Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments was revealed over the weekend.

One of McCain’s strongest selling points is his hard stance against lobbyists and special interests, and it is thus natural to find it as a point of critique by the Democratic candidate.

Domenico Montanaro of MSNBC writes, May 19, 2008:

The latest is the resignation of national finance co-chair Tom Loeffler, the fifth person who has left the campaign due to lobbyist ties. Loeffler was a key guy. How key? Just check out the McCain campaign’s reaction yesterday after Obama knocked McCain for his ties to lobbyists — like Loeffler: “Just a few years ago when Barack Obama was beginning his career in politics, he was launching it at the home of William Ayers, an unrepentant domestic terrorist… If Barack Obama is going to make associations the issue, we look forward to the debate about Senator Obama’s associations and what they say about his judgment and readiness to be commander in chief.” Whoa. One thing to keep an eye on this issue of severing ties with lobbyists is that McCain may get criticism from his own supporters for creating a policy that was doomed to cause him problems. Expect to see a lot more blind quotes reminding McCain that nobility on an issue doesn’t deliver an electoral majority.

McCain’s work on ethics reform has drawn fire from the Republican right in recent months. These recent hurdles might only serve to justify the earlier skepticism. The McCain campaign will have to make concerted efforts to protect the political capital that goes with this platform, and it is more than likely we will hear about this later in the upcoming presidential candidate debates.

  • Babs

    Michael, Tim Russert did a good job on tagging Obama’s hypocracy on his large lobbyist donations yesterday as well. Now you can say lobbyist donations and lobbyist influence are two separate things, but are they now. Obama’s record says otherwise. I’ll pull some figures for you if you’d like. 😉

  • Obama has his share of it too— but consider the difference of their platforms and what is at stake. Obama’s was “hope” and “judgment” which is why the Jeremiah Wright issue was so powerful– and it was “hope” that Clinton attacked.

    McCain’s platform is anti-pork and the war. These are his two pillars, and so he is politically hurt more by it than Obama.

  • Dreadsen

    Hey Babs put those figures together for me and where you get it from. I’m too lazy!


    But Obama has said that he doesn’t take lobbyist money didn’t he? So this would be somewhat bad. But maybe it’s not as bad because he sponsored or co-sponsored the lobbying ethics reform act so that everyone can see this?

  • Michel

    I would like to see those figures too. It struck me to see that McCain felt so cornered wiht all the lobbyst talk about him that he had to bring up the Ayers topic once again.
    I’m sorry if I’m not subtle enough.

  • Michel

    The candidate, the lobbyst and his ex-lover :). Great short reading :

  • Dreadsen, I agree, there are problems with Obama as well in this category. Quite frankly, I do not see it possible for ANY candidate to get this far without someone on their staff who was or is a lobbyist of some kind. The Washington system has been inundated with them for a few decades now.

    Obama got tagged a few months ago when they showed his campaigning employing a few people in the New Hampshire primary and others that were former lobbyists or state lobbyists, prompting Obama to make the distinction that he does not take money from national lobbyists. If you notice, though, he distanced his platform from his earlier claims of being “lobbyist free” shortly thereafter.

    Regardless of this, I still maintain McCain has more to lose than Obama with the curtain being pulled back regarding lobbyists. They both have the details, but McCain’s campaign depended more on this stance than Obama’s.

  • Babs

    Michael, I disagree with you on one point. Obama was the one running commericals touting he didn’t “take one dime” from lobbyists, and he did make a major issue out of it with Clinton and McCain. If one has a short memory, then Obama has nothing to lose on the issue. But if one’s memory of his campaign promises is long, as Tim Russert’s was during Sunday’s interview, it’s something that will come back to bite Obama during the general campaign time and again. He shouldn’t have used the line “not one dime”, he would have been able to duck it more easily.

    Dreadsen, I don’t have a lot of time today either, but you can see some figures at
    It doesn’t go into a lot of detail on the figures, but I’ll pull some more out for you as time permits on my end. 🙂

  • Babs

    Dreadsen, here’s another article on Obama pushing lobbyists interest from ABC News, figures, dates, etc.

  • Dreadsen

    Babs i got this from Fact Checks. I’m still reading though

    “Clinton and Obama each have raised far more money than previous candidates for president from either party, with little (in Clinton’s case) or none (in Obama’s case) coming from PACs and active federal lobbyists. For either to accuse the other of being financed by special-interest money is, to put the matter kindly, misleading.”

  • Dreadsen

    Babs according to factchecks Obama is not breaking the pledge in his ad

    “During his presidential run, Obama has raised $115,163 from “lobbyists,” as of March 20, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The Obama campaign states that this is all from former lobbyists, not those currently active. That distinction is important for Obama. As we’ve written before, Obama is doing a bit of a tightrope act here. He does not accept funds from registered federal lobbyists, but he does accept money from spouses of lobbyists, non-lobbying partners who work for lobbying firms or for law firms that do lobbying, ex-lobbyists, and state lobbyists.

    Clinton is within her rights to point to Obama’s past acceptance of money from lobbyists and special interests. But viewers shouldn’t take that as evidence that he has broken his promise. We’ve seen no evidence that Obama is not adhering to the letter of his pledge.”

    I remember Edwards bringing this up in a debate and Obama also pointed this out. but 115K is a tiny bit from 250million.

  • Babs

    Yeah, that statement was a little misleading in view of the rest of the article. *L* The second link will also give a little more insight into the special interest aspect. This is a subject of debate for all the candidates, I think, and if they are all guilty I think it makes it a non issue of one upping one another. But Obama did make it an issue with his “not one dime” ad. It’s the ad I would find fault with more than the actions.

  • Dreadsen

    From the abcnews blog

    “A review of campaign finance records turned up no record of contributions from Nufarm to Obama. Astellas Pharma employees gave $1,100 to Obama’s campaign in recent months, the documents show.”

    The article was based on Nufarm. So i guess Obama is safe because he hasn’t received any money from the Lobbyist.

    There is room to argue about the motive for the tariff suspensions which both sides had good points in the article.
    Obama’s reason was to lower the prices for drugs in Illinois but the price ended up going up anyway. Sounds like the Gas Tax. Try to do something to bring the price down and the price still goes up. But there is no OBVIOUS sinister motive here. They could say that Obama did this with the knowing intention of the price going up so Nufarm could make money. But the same argument could be made with his Gas tax in Illinois. Which he said he learned his lesson.
    From what I read this is possibly an example of POSITIVE lobbyist interest for the good of citizens. Which is what he should be doing as a Senator.(eventhough it may not have been but they have room to argue that it was). But if he was getting a kick back FOR doing this THAT is when you have a case. Being that he received no money from Nufarm he has a strong leg to stand on.

  • Babs

    The lobbying issue is not all about campaign funds received from Lobbyists. It’s partly about special interest pandering.

    “Away from the bright lights and high-minded rhetoric of the campaign trail, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has quietly worked with corporate lobbyists to help pass breaks worth $12 million.” This is also a quote from the article, you’re selective. 🙂

    And if this was the only case, you would be right, it wouldn’t establish a routine practice, maybe just an “I like you so I’ll help you” instance. But if you actually did some research, you would find more. And if you watched Tim Russert’s interview Sunday with Obama, you would hear more. So don’t be “lazy” as you put it, go find the “not one dime” Obama, because I can’t find him.

  • Dreadsen


    I didn’t think the 12 million needed to be mentioned again since any tariff or tax break is going to cause the government to lose some money. I already mentioned that the alleged idea was to cut the tax(the 12 million) in an attempt to pass the savings onto the consumers.

    Is that Tim Russert interview on youtube?

  • Babs

    I thought I watched it here on this site, Dreadsen. Even though Russert is reputed to be a supporter of Obama, I thought he did a good job of asking questions on the real issues, and not the non issue crap. I think it was last Sunday, could have been the week before, now I don’t remember.

  • Christopher Schwinger

    Babs, I wanted to answer your question from the other thread. (I’ve been really busy in the last few days.) The Constitution says that taxes should be equal, not proportionate. Also, I didn’t mean to use the word “conservative” as some “exclusive club” kind of word. “Constitutional” is my focus, not partisan politics of Rep. vs. Dem. I hope that explains my viewpoint better?

  • Stalin


    I am in total agreement with you on taxes. The top 5% earners pay over 50% of the federal income taxes. That is definitely not proportionate. It is illegal. Keep punishing the rich and there will be nowhere for the poor to work.

  • Michel

    I don’t see punishment to the rich at all. Can you link some articles with numbers that show this? Our government has made in fact some large subsidiary funding for big companies that were having trouble, like American Airlines, and the arilines were still doing massive staff firing. Bush tax cuts for the high income citizens did nothing for our economy. It didn’t “reactivate” it after all. Of course, maybe those tax cuts were good and we just didn’t notice because of all the money we spend in the war. But another explanation from you is welcome.

  • Babs

    Chris, yes it does, thanks. 🙂