John McCain has had trouble living up to his squeaky clean image recently. He has talked about reform in Washington and more specifically about lobbying reform. Unfortunately his actions don’t reflect his pronouncements about the need for change. First it was discovered that he had at least 118 current and former lobbyists working for him. Then the details of their lobbying surfaced in very embarrassing fashion. Two of his aides once lobbied for the Burmese junta, the very same regime that has refused to allow international aide into their country to help the victims of the recent cyclone disaster. Both of those aides resigned prompting a new policy meant to stop the PR nightmare. Unfortunately for John McCain, the lobbyist questions have only begun.
First it was the two McCain aides that lobbied for the Burmese junta, now former Texas Congressman Tom Loeffler has resigned because of his lobbying efforts for the government of Saudi Arabia. If McCain is going to accept the resignation of these lobbyists one must wonder why he has not asked for the same from his chief political advisor Charlie Black. Black and his firm have lobbied for not just foreign leaders but for some of the most brutal regimes imaginable.
Charlie Black was enlisted to improve the image of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, a man responsible for human rights violations, torture and summary executions. He also worked for Somalia’s dictator during a time when his army killed tens of thousands of civilians. Zaire’s dictator was a $1 million a year client of Black’s firm. He was one of the world’s richest men while allowing tens-of-thousands of children in his country to starve. Charlie Black’s long list of lobbying for rogue regimes and dictators across the world is a mile long, yet John McCain has not managed to summon the reform minded strength to ask for the resignation of his ‘chief political advisor.’
Lobbying for foreign governments and rogue regimes is not the only constituency that has been served by current McCain staffers and fundraisers. A client list of the over 100 lobbyists working for McCain represent a who’s who of corporate elites. The list touches everything from the banking and credit card industry, to the big drug companies and big oil. The list of special interests represented by McCain’s army of lobbyists is truly breathtaking. Not only does John McCain’s reform talk ring hollow as a result, but he seems to be a willing part of this broken system.