"Straight Talk" - Part I

24 February 2008

Back in November, John McCain had this to say to the voters of New Hampshire:

Everybody says that they’re against the special interests. I’m the only one the special interests don’t give any money to.
This is a lie. Plain and simple. A ridiculous one, at that. McCain has taken plenty of money from special interests.

For example, McCain has taken the second-largest amount in the Senate from lobbyists (just behind Hillary Clinton). He has received the most money in the entire Senate from Telephone & Utilities, whom he also wants to grant retroactive immunity. Even back in 2000, George W. Bush was criticizing McCain for taking money from people who had business before his committees.

This isn't directly related to direct donations, but it's also worth noting that McCain has 59 lobbyists working for his campaign as bundlers. They even conduct their business on the Straight Talk Express bus (which is just a funny image).

Of course, McCain can argue that these lobbyists and special interests who work for and donate to his campaign simply do not influence him. That's fine. But to say that they "don't give any money to" him is outright false. Why is this guy labeled the Maverick Straight-Talker?

UPDATE: Commenter Warren Terra at The Atlantic has more to say on Charlie Black:

Black is listed as McCain's senior advisor, and is accompanying McCain on his tour full-time. Meanwhile, he continues to draw full pay from his lobbying firm, and is an "unpaid volunteer" on the McCain campaign - essentially meaning that Charlie Black's professional services are an unregulated donation from a lobbying firm to the McCain campaign. In what I suppose to be partial mitigation of this Black continues to lobby Congress on behalf of his corporate clients by cell phone from the back of the Straight Talk Express - a bus that happens to be the very focus of Republican hopes for power next year.

The whole situation with Black is emblematic, and it's massively corrupt. The so-called 'Straight Talk Express' should pull over on the side of the road; then, before the bus continues on its way, either the name should be removed from the bus or Black should be.

UPDATE II: Conflicts of interest aside, at least he has some examples such as this to point out:
In 1996, McCain was one of five senators, and the only Republican, to vote against the Telecommunications Act. He did it because he believed the act gave away too much to the telecommunications companies, and protected them from true competition. He noted that AT&T alone gave $780,000 to Republicans and $456,000 to Democrats in the year leading up to the vote.
Bill Clinton and Al Gore can't say the same for themselves.

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