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McCain Staffers’ Lobbyist Ties

Rick Davis is McCain’s campaign manager. On May 15 he issued the new rules requiring all registered lobbyists to either resign from the campaign or sever ties with all lobbying firms and political groups. Interestingly, Davis’ firm, Davis Manafort, which he took a leave from in 2006 to work for McCain’s campaign, specializes in a type of lobbying that skirts the rules on registering. For instance, one can represent a foreign politician or businessman without registering as a lobbyist. In fact, Davis Manafort represents Oleg Deripaska, a Russian businessman barred from entering the U.S. because of past ties to organized crime in Russia. And Davis himself set up a meeting between Deripaska and McCain in 2006.

Randy Scheunemann is McCain’s foreign policy advisor who lobbied McCain’s staff on behalf of the Republic of Georgia and Taiwan while he worked for the campaign. He also introduced McCain to the foreign ministries of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia as they tried to win admission to NATO.

Charlie Black is McCain’s top political advisor. Black was the chairman of lobbying firm BKSH and Associates until he retired in March 2008. BKSH has quite an impressive roster of clients, including Ahmed Chalabi, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Mobutu Sese Seko, the former dictator of Zaire. BKSH was also the firm that paid Iraqi journalists for phony, pro-U.S. news stories. Mother Jones has compiled a more extensive list of his clients.

Phil Gramm was McCain’s National Campaign General Co-Chair and a key economic advisor. He was lobbying Congress for UBS about the mortgage crisis at the same time he was helping McCain craft his housing policy. UBS deregistered Gramm on April 18, but by that point McCain had already rolled out much of the policy Gramm had helped to craft. On May 29, Mother Jones published an article contending that Gramm was partly responsible for the subprime meltdown.

Doug Goodyear is the CEO of DCI Group and was McCain’s pick to run the 2008 Republican Convention. He resigned on May 10 after Newsweek reported that he had lobbied for Burma’s military junta in 2002. DCI has been criticized for its fake grassroots campaigns and its ties to 527 groups, “independent” political campaigns that McCain has denounced. 

Doug Davenport was one of the McCain campaign’s eleven regional managers. He quit on May 11 after it surfaced that his firm, DCI Group, lobbied for Burma’s military junta in 2002. Davenport was one of the founders and the chief lobbyist for DCI Group until he signed on with the McCain campaign.

Thomas Loeffler was the National Finance Co-Chairman for McCain’s campaign. He resigned on May 18 because of his lobbying ties. His firm has collected nearly $15 million from Saudi Arabia since 2002. Loeffler claims he never discussed his lobbying clients with McCain, but Newsweek reports that Loeffler met with McCain and the Saudi ambassador to discuss U.S.-Saudi relations in 2006.

Eric Burgeson was an energy advisor to the McCain campaign who also lobbies the federal government on energy issues. He was fired from the campaign for a conflict of interest on May 15.

Craig Shirley doubled as a consultant to the McCain campaign and to stophernow.com, a 527 barred from coordinating activities with presidential campaigns. He was fired from the campaign for a conflict of interest on May 15.

Susan Nelson is the campaign’s Finance Director and a former lobbyist for Loeffler’s firm. She received $15,000 a month from the firm last summer while she worked for McCain’s campaign. Federal election laws prohibit any outside entity from subsidizing the income of campaign workers.