website by Campaign Money Watch,
a project of Public Campaign Action Fund
(May 23, 2008 grab)

LETTER, PRESS RELEASE from Campaign Money Watch, a project of Public Campaign Action Fund

Richard Davis
John McCain 2008
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215

May 16, 2008

Dear Mr. Davis,

I read with interest the news reports of your campaign’s decision to vet all the past associations, work, and conflicts of interest of your staff. As you may know, Campaign Money Watch has been increasingly concerned about the number of lobbyists working on and raising money for Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid, the conflicts of interest they pose, and his retreat from supporting comprehensive reform that cuts the direct ties between special interests and candidates.

With 115 lobbyists raising money for or staffing your campaign, we believe that last weekend’s revelations that two staff members of the campaign promoted the military junta in Myanmar are just the tip of the iceberg. As you may be aware, Campaign Money Watch has called on three additional members of the McCain team to resign for similar representation of regimes with human rights abuses and brutal treatment of their citizens.

If you are interested in cleaning house at the McCain campaign, we urge you to start with Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, and Peter Madigan.

As you will soon find out when these three fill out their forms, they have represented unconscionable foreign interests. Mr. Black and his firm have lobbied for Philippines’s President Ferdinand Marcos, strongman Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire, Mohamed Siad Barre of Somali, “rebel terrorist” Jonas Savimbi of Angola, and several other unsavory foreign clients. Mr. Loeffler and his firm have made approximately $11 million in their contracts representing the Saudi Arabian government. Mr. Madigan represented the government of the United Arab Emirates in a class action suit regarding the enslavement of children as camel jockeys.

You can read more about their past clients and their lobbying work at http://www.firethelobbyists.com [1].

Clearly these types of lobbying clientele reflect poorly on Sen. McCain and his campaign.

Your vetting process will turn up many more conflicts of interest. For example, there have been widely reported connections between several lobbyists who serve as fundraisers and staff for your campaign and Airbus’s U.S. affiliate when they secured a $35 billion Air Force contract. Sen. McCain has received more in campaign donations from executives of this Airbus affiliate, EADS, than any other candidate. In addition, your own lobbying and public relations work, and that of your firm, has raised serious questions about conflicts of interest.

We remain concerned about Sen. McCain’s retreat from his previous support for public financing legislation at the national level. That he has built a campaign relying on lobbyists to staff it and raise money for it is a clear signal to us that reforming business-as-usual politics and the pay-to-play culture in Washington is a very low priority for the Senator if he is elected. We hope this will change.

We are encouraged that you have begun to correct this appearance with a thorough review of all those staffing for Sen. McCain’s campaign. As an immediate step, you ought to immediately remove Messrs. Black, Loeffler, and Madigan, and extend your review to those you are depending upon to raise money for the campaign.

David Donnelly

May 12, 2008
Reform Watchdog Group To McCain: Fire The Lobbyists

Washington, DC – Campaign Money Watch called on Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today to fire three Washington lobbyists working on his campaign team whose lobbying clients include brutal foreign interests and big oil companies. The demand comes after a weekend that saw key figures in McCain’s campaign resign for lobbying for Myanmar’s military junta.

The two McCain lobbyists who resigned were just two of at least 10 top McCain aides or fundraisers who have lobbied for foreign governments, including at least 6 regimes or rulers with a history of human rights abuses, and at least one rebel leader with a history of human rights abuses.

“John McCain’s campaign is overrun by lobbyists and the worst abusers of the pay-to-play campaign finance system,” said David Donnelly, Campaign Money Watch’s director. “McCain’s reform credentials are gone. While two lobbyists have left, at least 112 lobbyists who are raising money for his campaign or staffing it remain. If he wants to restore his image he ought to take this initial step to fire these lobbyists today.”

The lobbyists singled out by the reform group are:

Charlie Black, whose lobbying firm represented human rights abusers like Philipines President Ferdinand Marcos, Zaire dictator Mobuto Sese Seko, Somalia’s Mohamed Siad Barre and Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, as well as foreign oil interests like the Chinese government’s CNOOC. Black currently serves McCain as a spokesman and senior counsel;
Tom Loeffler, whose firm has made more than $10 million since 2006 for lobbying for the Saudi Arabian monarchy and oil interests. Loeffler serves as McCain’s national finance chairman; and
Peter Madigan, a lobbyist whose firm received $800,000 to represent the United Arab Emirates in a class action suit over allegations that boys are enslaved and forced to be camel jockeys. He is also is a former lobbyist for Shell Oil. Madigan serves as a top fundraiser for McCain.

The demand to fire the lobbyists comes as McCain gives a speech on environmental policy today. Oil and gas interests have donated $780,662 in campaign contributions to McCain’s candidate and leadership committees over his career, according to a Campaign Money Watch analysis of campaign finance data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

“At a time when America needs to restore its image around the world, McCain’s reliance on lobbyists who represent human rights abusers is unconscionable,” continued Donnelly. “Adding insult to injury, while he makes an environmental speech today, voters ought to look at how he has been cozying up to big oil lobbyists and donors. That’s why we are calling on McCain to fire lobbyists Black, Loeffler, and Madigan.”

Campaign Money Watch is a national campaign finance watchdog that works to hold politicians accountable for opposing comprehensive reform and doing favors for big money contributors. Campaign Money Watch is a project of the nonpartisan Public Campaign Action Fund.