POLITICS
11/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Contractor's Letter Contradicts McCain Camp Spin On Verizon Controversy

A document obtained by the Huffington Post contradicts recent claims made by Verizon and the McCain campaign about the cell tower placed on John McCain's Sedona, Arizona ranch earlier this year.

In a May 28 letter, a contractor hired by Verizon asked the local planning department to approve a temporary cell tower until the utility could construct a "permanent facility" on McCain's property.

The document (viewable here), is important, since the Verizon contractor's admission of the company's intent to construct a permanent cell tower contradicts statements made both by the company as well as the McCain campaign in the aftermath of a Washington Post story which alleged that the Senator received special treatment from the utility when it considered placing a permanent cell phone tower specifically for the McCain family's use.

So far, denials from the McCain campaign and Verizon have centered around a crucial time line distinction that the new document upends.

According to McCain's campaign, a proposed permanent cell tower on the Senator's Sedona ranch, originally asked for by Cindy McCain in 2007, was separately rejected by Verizon before the Secret Service made a request in May 2008 for a temporary tower in line with its duties protecting a major party nominee.

Regarding the temporary cell towers -- from both Verizon and AT&T -- that now sit on McCain's property, spokesman Brian Rogers has claimed: "Neither of these temporary facilities relate to Mrs. McCain's previous request to Verizon Wireless, via the company's website and as a customer of Verizon Wireless, for the company to explore providing permanent service to that area."

Similarly, a Verizon representative has stated that the company "received a request from Mrs. McCain, but declined. Subsequent to that, the Secret Service made a legitimate request for a temporary tower for its work and Verizon complied as is required by our contract with the agency."

In both statements, the timeline claims are iron clad: Cindy McCain's request for a permanent cell tower was lodged and rejected, as a complete and finished process, before the Secret Service's second request for a temporary tower. When news broke Thursday that Cindy's original requested permit from Verizon was, in fact, still open, the utility brushed aside that inconvenient fact as a formality -- saying that it makes sense to keep requests open for a certain period of time, in case the Secret Service's needs change.

But the new document puts a wrinkle in the underlying claim that Cindy McCain's request and the Secret Service request proceeded in separate fashion, at entirely different times.

In a letter to the Yavapai County Planning Department dated May 28, Randy Downing, a contractor hired by Verizon, wrote: "Verizon is requesting this approval [of a temporary tower] for a period of six months. That period should be enough time for Verizon to resolve the outstanding Building Permit, the environmental approvals, and construct the permanent facility."

It was also on May 28th that the Secret Service made its request for a temporary tower on McCain's ranch. Now it is clear that, on the same day, a Verizon contractor was still talking about a temporary tower as a bridge until such time as the permanent tower could be approved and built. "Verizon will remove the [temporary tower] as soon as the permanent site is 'on air,'" Downing added in his letter.

The Huffington Post emailed Downing at the work address provided on the document, in order to seek his confirmation that his letter puts to rest the notion that Cindy McCain's request for a permanent Verizon cell tower had not been fully decided at the time of the Secret Service's request. This piece will be updated if and when Downing responds.

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