McCain's lobbyist hits just keep on coming. Even as the campaign moves to curtail the senator's large number of lobbyist/advisers, new stories come out about his senior strategists. USA Today reports that one of McCain's top foreign policy advisers lobbied his Senate staff while simultaneously serving on the presidential campaign:
John McCain's top foreign policy adviser lobbied the Arizona senator's staff on behalf of the republic of Georgia while he was working for the campaign, public records show.
Randy Scheunemann, founder of Orion Strategies, represented the governments of Macedonia, Georgia and Taiwan between 2003 and March 1, according to the firm's filings with the Justice Department. In its latest semiannual report, the firm disclosed that Scheunemann had a phone conversation in November about Georgia with Richard Fontaine, an aide in McCain's Senate office.
Orion Strategies earned $540,000 from its foreign clients over the year ending on Dec. 1, reports show. Scheunemann also received $56,250 last year from March to July from McCain, according to campaign finance records.
Meanwhile, Campaign Money Watch is continuing to ask questions about McCain's top strategists, including Rick Davis, Charlie Black and recently resigned Tom Loeffler. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Davis's firm has made a reputation for employing lobbyists who do not need to register with the government, and the Davis trumpeted himself as a "Washington insider" who introduced McCain to ex-soviet mafia figures who have been denied entry to the United States.
Now Campaign Money Watch wants to know about a relationship between Loeffler and another McCain fundraiser, Susan Nelson:
We are concerned that the campaign may have received an illegal corporate contribution from Loeffler's lobbying firm which sent payments to your chief fundraiser on staff.
That's why we urge the campaign to immediately and publicly release the facts surrounding Ms. Nelson's simultaneous compensation by your campaign and the Loeffler Group. [...] If the McCain campaign believes that there are no violations of election or lobbying laws, then this information will prove you correct.
Since the campaign has likely collected this information in your current review of the lobbyists working for the campaign, it should not be a burden to provide it.
But without full disclosure from the campaign, questions about the appropriateness and integrity of the campaign's top staff fundraiser receiving payments from a major lobbying firm will persist. If the campaign is not willing to answer these questions, Campaign Money Watch may refer these questions to the Federal Election Commission or other authorities to investigate.