Today’s New York Times profiled one of Senator John McCain’s top aides, pointing out that Charlie Black's work as a lobbyist goes well beyond with the Republican Party:
Mr. Black has worked for some of the city’s most controversial clients (Jonas Savimbi, Philip Morris, Blackwater) and with the baddest boys of Republican politics (he cut his teeth on Jesse Helms’s campaigns, and was a mentor to Lee Atwater). But he has managed to stay ahead of controversy himself.
In recent years, Mr. Black’s clients have included AT&T, Johnson and Johnson, the worldwide lottery firm GTech, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, Yukos Oil, and the governments of Greece, Armenia and Cyprus. BKSH worked for Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress, as well as the Lincoln Group, hired by the Pentagon to generate positive stories about the Iraq war.
Over the past four years, BKSH has been boosting the interests of the Iraqi National Congress, whose leader, Ahmed Chalabi, was a key anti-Saddam opponent and now sits on the newly formed Iraqi Governing Council. Besides helping the INC - which has enjoyed extensive backing from the Pentagon but is quite controversial at the State Department and the CIA - BKSH has started to help open doors for such U.S. companies as AT&T, Cummins Engine, and Fluor that are seeking business in Iraq.
"Due to our past representation of the INC," says Black, "we know and have worked with a lot of people who will be in the provisional government. We have a number of clients who are interested in doing business in Iraq." Black adds that his firm is "strongly considering" opening an office in Baghdad.
What does Black have to say about his former clients? Government Executive continues:
Blackwater, he says over steak salad at the Morton’s off the K Street lobbying corridor, “is a fine company that’s provided a great service to the people of the United States and Iraq.” Saudi Arabia, another client: “a great ally.” Mr. Savimbi, the brutal Angolan leader whom President Ronald Reagan promoted as a freedom fighter but many Democrats derided as an ally of apartheid South Africa: “a great pleasure to work with.”
As the Times points out, similar interaction with foreign governments prompted an aide on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign to quit:
Mark Pann — whose firm, Burson-Marsteller, owns Mr. Black’s firm — stepped aside last week as chief strategist for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign after he met with representatives of the Colombian government, which is pursuing a trade pact that Mrs. Clinton opposes. In an effort to defuse similar concerns about potential conflicts of interest, Mr. Black resigned from his firm, BKSH, the previous week.
Politico reported on Sunday that Doug Davenport, who was one of McCain’s 11 regional campaign managers, quit due to his work for the DCI Group, a public relations firm that helped the repressive Burmese junta.
The day before Davenport’s resignation, the New York Times reported that another McCain aide who worked for DCI Group, Doug Goodyear, assigned to run the Republican National Convention, quit after Newsweek reported that Goodyear’s former employer accepted $348,000 to represent the Burmese junta in 2002.