Reform Watchdog Group To McCain: Fire The Lobbyists

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Washington, DC – Campaign Money Watch called on Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today to fire three Washington lobbyists working on his campaign team whose lobbying clients include brutal foreign interests and big oil companies. The demand comes after a weekend that saw key figures in McCain’s campaign resign for lobbying for Myanmar’s military junta.

The two McCain lobbyists who resigned were just two of at least 10 top McCain aides or fundraisers who have lobbied for foreign governments, including at least 6 regimes or rulers with a history of human rights abuses, and at least one rebel leader with a history of human rights abuses.

“John McCain’s campaign is overrun by lobbyists and the worst abusers of the pay-to-play campaign finance system,” said David Donnelly, Campaign Money Watch’s director. “McCain’s reform credentials are gone. While two lobbyists have left, at least 112 lobbyists who are raising money for his campaign or staffing it remain. If he wants to restore his image he ought to take this initial step to fire these lobbyists today.”

The lobbyists singled out by the reform group are:

Charlie Black, whose lobbying firm represented human rights abusers like Philipines President Ferdinand Marcos, Zaire dictator Mobuto Sese Seko, Somalia’s Mohamed Siad Barre and Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, as well as foreign oil interests like the Chinese government’s CNOOC. Black currently serves McCain as a spokesman and senior counsel;

Tom Loeffler, whose firm has made more than $10 million since 2006 for lobbying for the Saudi Arabian monarchy and oil interests. Loeffler serves as McCain’s national finance chairman; and

Peter Madigan, a lobbyist whose firm received $800,000 to represent the United Arab Emirates in a class action suit over allegations that boys are enslaved and forced to be camel jockeys. He is also is a former lobbyist for Shell Oil. Madigan serves as a top fundraiser for McCain.

The demand to fire the lobbyists comes as McCain gives a speech on environmental policy today. Oil and gas interests have donated $780,662 in campaign contributions to McCain’s candidate and leadership committees over his career, according to a Campaign Money Watch analysis of campaign finance data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

“At a time when America needs to restore its image around the world, McCain’s reliance on lobbyists who represent human rights abusers is unconscionable,” continued Donnelly. “Adding insult to injury, while he makes an environmental speech today, voters ought to look at how he has been cozying up to big oil lobbyists and donors. That’s why we are calling on McCain to fire lobbyists Black, Loeffler, and Madigan.”

Campaign Money Watch is a national campaign finance watchdog that works to hold politicians accountable for opposing comprehensive reform and doing favors for big money contributors. Campaign Money Watch is a project of the nonpartisan Public Campaign Action Fund.