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.