A Beautiful Friendship

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The Washington Post examines Rick Davis' vital role in Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, and his history with the Senator which they describe as a "relationship [. . .] typical of the symbiotic ties that have come to define the culture of the nation's capital" -- in short, Davis sacrificed in the short term for his candidate, and could stand to make millions in the long term off his relationship with McCain atop the millions the relationship has already yielded.

Davis took the helm of the McCain campaign when it was floundering earlier in the primary season and eschewed a salary in light of McCain's fundraising woes. But that bit of charity could pay off tenfold for Davis and indeed for the many other lobbyists staffing and raising money for McCain's presidential bid:


[I]n the eight years since Davis first managed a McCain campaign, his relationship with the senator has been a lucrative commodity. He and his lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, have earned handsome fees representing clients who need McCain's help in the Senate. He also has made money from a panoply of McCain-related entities, some of which have operated from the upscale riverfront office space that houses his lobbying shop.

In all, Davis, his firm and a company he helped start have earned at least $2.2 million in part through their close association with McCain, his campaign and his causes, according to a review of federal campaign, tax and lobbyist disclosure records.

Davis drafted the conflict of interest policy that led to a few high-profile firings of McCain campaign staff who were lobbyists, but the fact that he's still got a job suggests the policy was selectively applied. The history of his making money off his relationship with McCain, and of McCain acting in the interests of Davis' clients is undeniable:

In 2003, for instance, DHL Holdings (USA) and Airborne hired Davis to lobby the Senate to facilitate a merger. Hotly opposed by shipping giants FedEx and United Parcel Service, the merger encountered opposition from Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on the commerce committee. McCain took steps that helped Davis's clients. He thwarted Stevens's effort to insert language into legislation that would prohibit foreign-controlled companies such as DHL from holding certain military contracts.

Davis's firm earned $125,000 from Airborne in 2003 and $465,000 from DHL parent company Deutsche Post World Net (USA) from 2003 to 2005, records show.

A group called Preserve Luke Air Force Base hired Davis in 2004 and 2005 to help win approval of an Arizona land swap. Guy Inzalaco, who was part of a development group, formed Preserve Luke AFB to push for the exchange. He knew McCain's help would be critical.

"We were like, 'Okay, who's close to Senator McCain?' " Inzalaco recalled. "There were a number of people. We talked to them all. Rick [Davis] was one of them. We knew he was tight with the senator."

Inzalaco's group paid Davis's firm $125,000 to lobby the Senate, records show. The deal ultimately did not go through. McCain worked to authorize $14.3 million in a 2003 defense bill to buy land around Luke Air Force Base -- a provision sought by SunCor Development, which has been a McCain supporter. The Air Force later paid SunCor $3 million for 122 acres near the suburban Phoenix base.