03/31/2008 08:15 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Cronies: Rick Davis, Uber-Lobbyist, At The Campaign Helm

Here's my first question for all the media types who have been covering McCain: why is it that any negative story about his myriad lobbyist connections gets relegated to the back pages -- the A17 story death knell? Anyone know -- because I'd love to hear the scoop.

John McCain's current campaign chair is none other than uber-lobbyist Rick Davis. A bit of background on Mr. Davis provides some context for how the Straight Talk Express is, and always has been, a sham. To wit:

-- Rick Davis arranged a cocktail meet and greet with McCain and a Russian businessman, Oleg Deripaska, so controversial that the US has revoked his visa -- at an economic conference in Switzerland. Davis' lobbying firm was trying to secure business with the Russian at the time, while the firm was already representing a competing political interest in Ukraine.

Seven months later, in August 2006, Davis was present again at a social gathering that was also attended by McCain and Deripaska, this time in Montenegro, another Eastern European country in which Davis's firm was working. The three were among a few dozen people dining at a restaurant during an official Senate trip....

Afterward, a group from the dinner took boats out to a nearby yacht moored in the Adriatic Sea, where champagne and pastries were served, partly in honor of McCain's 70th birthday.

Salter said neither McCain nor Davis recalls Deripaska being on the yacht after dinner. (emphasis mine)


-- Mr. Davis, while working with the McCain 2008 campaign, also managed to procure a fat internet services contract from the campaign and kept lobbying for clients whose interests were opposed to McCain's own policy pronouncements.

...3eDC, a company he partly owns, had been retained by the campaign to provide Web services. Aides questioned whether Mr. Davis's role in the company had been fully disclosed and said Mr. Weaver, having learned of the arrangement, had tried to end it.

All told, 3eDC billed the campaign more than $1 million for Web services during the first half of the year. (The amount still owed the company accounts for about a third of the campaign's debt.) News reports also noted that Davis Manafort, the business development and consulting practice from which Mr. Davis is on leave, had been giving campaign advice to the Ukrainian prime minister, Viktor F. Yanukovich, a favorite of the Kremlin, whose power Mr. McCain often warns against.

Mr. Davis said in the interview that the 3eDC contract had been thoroughly vetted, with his role fully disclosed, and called any accusation that he had been trying to enrich himself "typical smear stuff." He said he did not fight back against the accusation when it surfaced over the summer because he did not want the back-and-forth to distract from the campaign.

Gee, poor guy. It's all just a misunderstanding I'm sure.

--Or not. It seems that Davis has quite a few money-scandal skeletons in his closet:

Davis is a particularly easy target, having several money-related scandals in his background. A veteran of the Reagan administration, Davis ran McCain's presidential bid six years ago. He also founded a lobbying firm -- Davis, Manafort Inc. -- which has made at least $2.8 million lobbying Congress since 1998.

Over the past eight years, Davis' two roles often overlapped. In 1999, while he was McCain's campaign manager, his firm represented SBC Communications Inc. and Comsat Corp. At that time, both communications companies had controversial mergers pending at the Federal Communications Commission. The Senate Commerce Committee has legislative authority over the FCC, and McCain was chairman of that committee. Both mergers were eventually approved.... (emphasis mine)

But wait, there's more...much, much more to come.