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Tag Archive: John McCain

McCain Campaign Loses a Foreign Agent Whose Firm is on the Saudi Payroll

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On April 15, my colleague Anu--who's been digging into foreign agent lobbyist disclosures--posted a piece noting an oddity about the lobbying firm founded by Thomas Loeffler, a national co-chairman of the McCain campaign. The Loeffler Group had been paid more than $15 million by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia since 2003 and had had on average about 10 lobbying contacts a month (that is, meetings, phone calls, lunches, etc.) with members of Congress, their staff, and executive branch officials. After March 26, 2007, the firm stopped lobbying government officials on behalf of the Saudis. Yet the Loeffler Group continued to be paid a retainer--some $990,000 in the last six months--despite not doing very much on behalf of their client. Over the weekend, Loeffler left the McCain campaign; as Mike Allen of the Politico noted,

It’s at least the fifth lobbying-related departure from the campaign in a week. ... The McCain campaign last week announced a restrictive “McCain Campaign Conflict Policy” that included a questionnaire to be returned to the campaign’s legal department as part of a re-vetting of all staff. “No person working for the Campaign may be a registered lobbyist or foreign agent, or receive compensation for any such activity,” the policy says.

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Paying to not Play: Revisiting the Iron Triangle

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In the mercenary culture of Washington, discretion is often the better part of valor. There wasn't much of the former when Mark Penn, who at the time was the senior strategist for the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton and also chief executive of P.R. firm Burson-Marsteller, met with representatives of the government of Colombia. They sought passage of a trade deal that Penn's other boss, Clinton, had opposed on the campaign trail. Penn ended up a former top strategist. Over on Real Time, my colleague Anupama has unearthed a slightly more valorous lobbyist-turned-campaign official. Thomas Loeffler, a former member of Congress, a bundler for President George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, and now co-chair of the McCain campaign, is a registered foreign agent (that is, a lobbyist) for the government of Saudi Arabia. Before joining McCain's campaign, Loeffler and his firm's employees averaged almost ten contacts a month with U.S. government officials (including Sen. McCain) during which they would promote the interests of the Saudi government. Since Loeffler joined McCain's campaign, those contacts have altogether stopped. But the payments from the Saudi government haven't. The Saudis have paid Loeffler's firm $3.5 million, even though it's had just one contact with federal officials since Loeffler joined McCain's campaign. Running for the White House in 2000, Sen. John McCain described an iron triangle of "special interests, campaign finance and lobbying." And also, "money, lobbyists and legislation." William Safire pointed out the two sets of three corners, but note the one in common: lobbyists. Even those like McCain (and more recently Sen. Barack Obama), who decry their influence seem to end up in the middle of the triangle.

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Daylight AM

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  • Conservative activist Grover Norquist called [sw: John McCain] (R-Ariz.) "delusional" for exposing Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) as a shadow lobbying operation and a conduit for Jack Abramoff's money laundering. (The Hill)
  • Congress put itself in a crunch this year when it decided to set a schedule that, in total, is shorter than a school year and may prove to be shorter than any meeting schedule in the past sixty years. They must now push through numerous important bills with only July and possibly September left. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Democrats are upset with one of their main funding sources, labor unions, because they are contributing campaign funds to highly vulnerable Republicans. One labor lobbyist believes that "Democrats can’t expect unions to place all their bets on Democratic candidates and risk being shut out of the legislative process if they lose." (The Hill)
  • Clients continue to drop the lobbying firm Copeland Lowery because of its involvement in the growing investigation into Appropriations Chair [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.). Riverside County, Boeing Co., and now the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority have all severed their ties to the embattled lobbying firm. (San Bernardino Sun)

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