Posted: May 19, 2008 10:58 AM
Another McCain Adviser Quits Amid Ethics Crackdown
As the race for campaign funds gains intensity, a top adviser charged with fundraising for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign has resigned from the GOP candidate’s camp over questionable lobbying ties.
Former Texas Rep. Thomas Loeffler, a national finance co-chairman, is the fifth staffer to depart the McCain camp amid concern over potential conflicts of interest over links to lobbyists.
Newsweek magazine reported that Loeffler’s lobbying firm has collected nearly $15 million from Saudi Arabia since 2002 and millions more from other foreign and corporate interests, according to a Reuters report.
Last week, campaign manager Rick Davis issued a new policy that requires all campaign staffers to either resign or sever ties with lobbying firms or outside political groups, the Washington Post reported.
The policy appears to have stemmed in part from recent revelations that people connected to the McCain campaign lobbied for the military government in Myanmar and worked on behalf of energy companies among other issues. Staffers with questionable connections have either resigned or been ousted from the campaign.
“Obviously, I didn’t like it,” McCain told reporters Friday when asked about the two aides’ ties to Myanmar. “Saw a problem, fixed it.”
The issue of lobbyists’ links to presidential campaigns flared anew last month with the departure of a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign over his role as a lobbyist for Colombia.
Mark Penn left the Clinton campaign in early April after The Wall Street Journal reported that he met with Colombian government representatives to have his company promote a free trade deal opposed by his candidate.
The exit of top finance advisers presents a new challenge for McCain, who is expected to face an uphill climb to match his Democratic counterparts in fundraising and who has spent a large chunk of his political career crusading for transparency in political fundraising.
The New York Times reported Monday that the Arizona senator is likely to rely heavily on Republican Party cash, should he wind up facing the fundraising prowess of Sen. Barack Obama in the general election.
“The financial arms race that is shaping up is likely to produce the most expensive presidential contest in history and test the commitments that both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have made to rein in the influence of money in politics,” the Times concluded.
Obama wasted no time weighing in on the newest departure from the McCain camp over lobbying ties, Politico reported.
“It appears that John McCain is very much a creature of Washington … if we’re going to deliver on universal health care or have an energy policy that over the long term can bring down gas prices that we were going to have to change how Washington works,” Obama told reporters Sunday at an ice cream shop in Milwaukie, Ore.
“We can’t have special interests dictating what’s happening there and that’s why I said at the beginning I wouldn’t take PAC money and I wouldn’t take money from federal lobbyists,” Obama said.
McCain’s campaign was quick to fire back however, pointing out Obama’s meetings with former ’60s radical and Weather Underground member William Ayers.
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said “just a few years ago when Barack Obama was beginning his career in politics he was launching it at the home of William Ayers, an unrepentant domestic terrorist who his chief strategist said Senator Obama was certainly friendly with. If Barack Obama is going to make associations the issue, we look forward to the debate about Senator Obama’s associations and what they say about his judgment and readiness to be commander in chief.”