John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser lobbied the Arizona senator’s staff on behalf of the republic of Georgia while he was working for the campaign, public records show.
Randy Scheunemann, founder of Orion Strategies, represented the governments of Macedonia, Georgia and Taiwan between 2003 and March 1, according to the firm’s filings with the Justice Department. In its latest semiannual report, the firm disclosed that Scheunemann had a phone conversation in November about Georgia with Richard Fontaine, an aide in McCain’s Senate office.
Orion Strategies earned $540,000 from its foreign clients over the year ending on Dec. 1, reports show. Scheunemann also received $56,250 last year from March to July from McCain, according to campaign finance records.
But wait, it gets better. That lobbying call Scheunemann had about Georgia with McCain’s aide? He had it at a time when Scheunemann was working for free for McCain. Apparently, when he was broke last year (and, appropriately, flying around on the Sugar Momma Express), McCain was compensating his campaign staffers in access.
Given all the discussion of retroactive immunity for FISA, you guys are especially going to love this bit:
Campaign spokesman Jill Hazelbaker said the ethics policy is not retroactive.
That’s what you’d expect out of a campaign managed by a lobbyist who, until March, was lobbying Senators (including McCain?) to pressure them to give telecoms retroactive immunity. But Hazelbaker’s insistence that there is no retroactive ethical fix reinforces my point from yesterday: once your campaign policies have been developed by a bus full of lobbyists, there’s no way to cleanse those policies of ethical taint.
Really, McCain ought to give up this lobbyist disclosure whitewash. We’d all get through detailed discovery of the degree to which lobbyists own McCain’s campaign faster if he would just tell us which of his policies weren’t developed by active lobbyists.
Problem is, I can’t think of a likely policy area where McCain’s campaign isn’t dripping with lobbyists. You think maybe his blog outreach program is free of lobbyist taint?