Wednesday, February 13, 2008

McCain's Abramoff Connection

CREW reports that John McCain isn't quite the anti-lobbying maverick that he would have us believe. In fact, McCain's lobbyist connections reach all the way to the disgraced lobbyist who redefined the term "disgraced lobbyist": Jack Abramoff

A review of campaign finance filings shows that the Arizona Republican has accepted more than $100,000 in donations from employees of Greenberg Traurig, the very firm where Abramoff once reigned.

Those donations include several thousand dollars from registered lobbyists who represent, or have represented, businesses such as NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch's media empire; Spi Spirits, a Cyprus based company that has fought with the Russian government for the rights to the Stolichnaya vodka brand name; El Paso Corp, a major energy company; General Motors; and the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a group of businesses and trade associations "concerned" about the shortage of lesser skilled and unskilled labor.

All told, McCain has received more than $400,000 from lobbying firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And among his major fundraisers ("bundlers") 59 have been identified as lobbyists by the non-profit organization Public Citizen.

There is nothing illegal about these contributions. But campaign watchdog groups and McCain's opponents view them as more than just a reflection of political irony. McCain, they argue, has on occasion been far more bark than bite when it comes to taking on lobbying interests.