McCain OK with Keeping One Burma Junta Lobbyist on Campaign

After having read account after account after account of John McCain's all-too-close relationship with lobbyists, it's hard for me to get too surprised at reading another account. Or at least I thought it was until reading Michael Isikoff today in Newsweek.

After John McCain nailed down the Republican nomination in March, his campaign began wrestling with a sensitive personnel issue: who would manage this summer's GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.? The campaign recently tapped Doug Goodyear for the job, a veteran operative and Arizonan who was chosen for his "management experience and expertise," according to McCain press secretary Jill Hazelbaker. But some allies worry that Goodyear's selection could fuel perceptions that McCain--who has portrayed himself as a crusader against special interests--is surrounded by lobbyists. Goodyear is CEO of DCI Group, a consulting firm that earned $3 million last year lobbying for ExxonMobil, General Motors and other clients.

Potentially more problematic: the firm was paid $348,000 in 2002 to represent Burma's military junta, which had been strongly condemned by the State Department for its human-rights record and remains in power today. Justice Department lobbying records show DCI pushed to "begin a dialogue of political reconciliation" with the regime. It also led a PR campaign to burnish the junta's image, drafting releases praising Burma's efforts to curb the drug trade and denouncing "falsehoods" by the Bush administration that the regime engaged in rape and other abuses. "It was our only foreign representation, it was for a short tenure, and it was six years ago," Goodyear told NEWSWEEK, adding the junta's record in the current cyclone crisis is "reprehensible."

Another issue: DCI has been a pioneer in running "independent" expenditure campaigns by so-called 527 groups, precisely the kind of operations that McCain, in his battle for campaign-finance reform, has denounced. In 2004, the DCI Group led a pro-Bush 527 called Progress for America, which was later fined (along with several other 527s on both sides of the political divide) for violating federal election laws. Goodyear, however, says that DCI is "not in the 527 business anymore."

Once the Isikoff article was published, it was only a matter of hours before Goodyear had left the campaign. After all, at a time when the Burmese junta is preventing much-needed aid from reaching those devastated by the recent cyclone in the country, having a man who lobbied on behalf of that rightfully maligned dictatorship run a party convention just doesn't look good. But apparently, it's alright in the eyes of McCain to keep one of the junta's lobbyists on board of his campaign committee, as Marc Ambinder points out this evening.

Discussion: Optics. What becomes now of Doug Davenport, the DCI lobbying czar who is a campaign regional manager? A campaign spokesperson referred comment to Davenport, who did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. As the head DCI lobbyist, Mr. Davenport would have been directly in charge of the Myanmar account during 2002.

Now having read the reporting of both Isikoff and Ambinder, I'm close to speechless. The sheer hubris of John McCain in believing a) that it's alright to have his campaign almost entirely run by lobbyists; b) that it's alright to continue to employ a lobbyist for the Burmese junta as a regional campaign manager; and c) that he shouldn't be questioned about things like this, just blows me away. I don't know what more I can say now than just wow.

Tags: Burma, John McCain, Lobbyists (all tags)

Comments

10 Comments

McCain's lobbyists are going to be

his undoing!

by puma 2008-05-10 07:03PM | 0 recs
I Can't Wait Until...

...We really go after him!!!

by hootie4170 2008-05-10 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain OK with Keeping One Burma

Can McCain make this any easier for Obama?

God I love politics!!!

by obamaovermccain 2008-05-10 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Shame on you, Hillary!

haha man that is funny, but you might get banned for that

by obamaovermccain 2008-05-10 07:33PM | 0 recs
That was not helpful

I hope you aren't an Obama supporter.  This comment and picture is unnecessary crap and in my opinion you are making the rest of us look bad.

Attack McCain if you have to, defend Obama if you have to, but please don't simply piss people off to make a point.  You probably just pushed at least one Clinton supporter over the edge to stay home or vote McCain.

I'm giving you a TR for that even if you are on my side.

-chris

by chrisblask 2008-05-10 07:35PM | 0 recs
Thanks for removing that, Admin

That guy was not representative of Obama supporters.  He may have been sincere, but a true anti-Dem troll could not have posted a stupider comment.

-chris

by chrisblask 2008-05-10 08:00PM | 0 recs
This is the crap that sealed off McCain for me

I've said it here before, I'm centrist and don't have an intrinsic axe to grind with Reps or McCain.

But he just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

My guess is that he figures (perhaps correctly) that he has to go far-right to win given the fucked-up state of the Rep party ("not born-again and extremist?  then no R for you...").  But this is yet another "I forget, was that Sunnis or Shias in Iran?" moment of such complete asnine-ishness that even that doesn't explain it.

What a fucking putz.

We have got to keep this guy and his cronies out.  Most of those cronies are already in, so let me rephrase that: we need to get this guy and his cronies out.

-chris

by chrisblask 2008-05-10 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Burma Junta

McCain is what the military would call a "target rich environment."

by Kobi 2008-05-10 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Shame on you, Hillary!

Once was enough. I gave you the benefit of doubt before and rescued you, but now you're just being abusive.

by Kobi 2008-05-10 07:50PM | 0 recs
if you got a dollar for...

every time that Obama will say the word "lobbyist" in the Summer and Fall, you would be able to buy a house in Pacific Palisades, maybe even Montecito.

You're right that prominent lobbyists infest that campaign like termites in an old house (Exhibit A: Charlie Black).  The best part of this is that it plays right into our main case to the American public: that the ways of Washington must change.  

PS- I think that Frank Rich reads this blog.  Frank, can you confirm?

by mboehm 2008-05-10 10:23PM | 0 recs

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