The Russia – Georgia conflict is dominating the news right now. Well, except for the Olympics. And the John Edwards affair. And the VP sweepstakes. But the Russia – Georgia conflict is important nonetheless.
John McCain, acting presidential, injected himself into the conflict.
“… Georgia withdrew its troops from South Ossetia, and offered a ceasefire. The Russians responded by bombing a civilian airport in Georgia’s capital, Tblisi, and by stepping up its offensive in Abkhazia. This pattern of attack appears aimed not at restoring any status quo ante in South Ossetia, but rather toppling the Democratically elected government of Georgia.’’
Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili responded:
“Yesterday, I heard Senator McCain say, ‘We are all Georgians now. Well, very nice, you know, very cheering for us to hear that, but OK, it’s time to pass from this. From words to deeds.”
On the surface, it was impressive watching McCain strongly support Georgia and now we all know why McCain stepped in as authoritatively as he did. McCain’s foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann is a lobbyist on behalf of Georgia. This would explain McCain’s position and again brings up the question of conflict of interest.
Of course it’s a conflict of interest. McCain’s campaign is infused with lobbyists. Scheunemann isn’t the first to make news for stepping out of bounds.
The most well-known lobbyist in McCain’s campaign is former Senator Phil Gramm who is best known for sneaking the Enron loophole into legislation and for calling Americans a ‘nation of whiners.’ Gramm was a lobbyist for UBS. He lobbied Congress while he was providing advice to McCain over the mortgage crisis which some say he assisted in creating.
The lobbyist I have been keeping an eye on is Charlie Black, former chairman of BKSH, a lobbying firm. He ‘retired’ from the company in March, 2008. BKSH is a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller which is led by Hillary Clinton advisor, Mark Penn.
ProPublica released a story in May detailing McCain’s staff’s lobbyist ties. It is a quick read.
ABC News posted a story back in January stating that McCain had 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, which exceeded every presidential candidate. (Source: McCain’s Lobbyist Friends Rally ‘Round Their Man)
A great site worth mentioning is the new McCain’$ Lobbyists which focuses on McCain’s lobbyist problems.