POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:46 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain: The 'Anti-Lobbyist' Who Works With Lobbyists

Iseman Client Contradicts McCain Campaign On Meetings: The Washington Post reports:

Broadcaster Lowell "Bud" Paxson today contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson's behalf.

Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson's quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station.

Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, attended the meeting in McCain's office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting. "Was Vicki there? Probably," Paxson said in an interview with The Washington Post today. "The woman was a professional. She was good. She could get us meetings."

The recollection of the now-retired Paxson conflicted with the account provided by McCain about two letters at the center of a controversy about the senator's ties to Iseman, a partner at the lobbying firm of Alcalde & Fay.[...]

McCain attorney Robert S. Bennett played down the contradiction between the campaign's written answer and Paxson's recollection.

"We understood that he [McCain] did not speak directly with him [Paxson]. Now it appears he did speak to him. What is the difference?" Bennett said. "McCain has never denied that Paxson asked for assistance from his office. It doesn't seem relevant whether the request got to him through Paxson or the staff. His letters to the FCC concerning the matter urged the commission to make up its mind. He did not ask the FCC to approve or deny the application. It's not that big a deal."

The Washington Post has come out with another damning story on Senator John McCain, just two days after The New York Times alleged he was having an "inappropriate" relationship with a female lobbyist.

[W]hen McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JP Morgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O Lakes, the UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae. [...]

In McCain's case, the fact that lobbyists are essentially running his presidential campaign -- most of them as volunteers -- seems to some people to be at odds with his anti-lobbying rhetoric. "He has a closer relationship with lobbyists than he lets on," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "The problem for McCain being so closely associated with lobbyists is that he's the candidate most closely associated with attacking lobbyists."

Public Citizen, a group that monitors campaign fundraising, has found that McCain had more bundlers -- people who gather checks from networks of friends and associates -- from the lobbying community than any other presidential candidate from either party.

McCain: My Lobbyists Are "Honorable": McCain responds:

Sen. John McCain said Friday that while lobbyists serve as close advisers to his presidential campaign, they are honorable and he is not influenced by corruption in the system.

McCain, who has styled himself as an enemy of special interests, defended having lobbyists working for his campaign. He is the expected Republican presidential nominee.

"These people have honorable records, and they're honorable people, and I'm proud to have them as part of my team," McCain told reporters following a town hall meeting in Indianapolis.

Bush White House Backs Up McCain: AP reports:

Siding with McCain, the White House accused the Times of repeatedly trying to "drop a bombshell" on Republican presidential nominees to undermine their candidacies.

White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel noted at a Friday morning briefing that the story has received a lot of attention.

"I think a lot of people here in this building, with experience in a couple campaigns, have grown accustomed to the fact that during the course of the campaign, seemingly on maybe a monthly basis leading up to the convention and maybe a weekly basis after that, The New York Times does try to drop a bombshell on the Republican nominee.

For his part, McCain refused to comment on the White House statements.

McCain-Iseman Scandal: Click here for more on how The New York Times reported the story, the details surrouding McCain and Iseman, McCain's denials, and all other aspects of the bombshell report.