Reading the NYTimes piece on McCain’s high stakes craps lifestyle raises significant questions. Not just about McCain’s reckless lack of judgment by gambling at a casino that fell under his oversight purview, but also his lax follow-through on Indian Affairs and Commerce for "friends." Recall McCain didn’t bother to subpoena Ralph Reed in the Abramoff investigation and all those as-yet-unreleased e-mails?
Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.
Just how did MCain decide who to haul before the committee. Or not? And it triggered a flashback.
Remember back in 2007, when Rick Davis was first brought on board to shore up McCain’s imploding campaign — the media staff had quit en masse that summer — with an infusion of cash from Davis’ lobbying connections?
I remembered this in particular (subs. req.):
In particular, last year Mr. Davis and lobbying partner Paul Manafort had started and co-owned an Internet services firm, 3eDC, which billed the campaign more than $1 million. Mr. Davis also arranged for the campaign to give its property-management business to a second new company started by a lobbyist-friend’s client, Indian-casino developer Richard Fields. That move came despite the fact that Mr. McCain had become known as the Senate’s biggest critic of scandals involving Indian casinos. The campaign has ended both companies’ deals, though it still owes them money.
Davis also owned an interest in 3eDC — cozy of him to give himself the McCain campaign internet contract as he began his stint at the helm of McCain’s campaign, isn’t it? But it’s this constant intersection of Davis, questionable ethics, and McCain’s fiduciary oversight obligations to the public that interests me. From the WaPo in June:
But in the eight years since Davis first managed a McCain campaign, his relationship with the senator has been a lucrative commodity. He and his lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, have earned handsome fees representing clients who need McCain’s help in the Senate. He also has made money from a panoply of McCain-related entities, some of which have operated from the upscale riverfront office space that houses his lobbying shop.
In all, Davis, his firm and a company he helped start have earned at least $2.2 million in part through their close association with McCain, his campaign and his causes, according to a review of federal campaign, tax and lobbyist disclosure records.
But the gambling questions raise a host of issues which call McCain’s PR "maverick" image into sharp question. Anyone think you are gambling in the high roller room of a casino with that casino’s chief lobbyist, Scott Reed, and that you walk away with a pile of $100 chips just because you are an awesome shooter of craps?Absolutely no thumb on the scale so the powerful Senator walks away with his happy pile o’ cash and good feelings about your business? How can you prove it?
Which is why careful, ethical lawmakers avoid such improprieties and questionable actions in the first place. Not McCain. Reckless and doesn’t give a crap about the usual rules McCain.
But back to that sweetheart deal for Davis’ casino mogul pal turned shell-corporation contractor.
Richard Fields is probably most well-known for a significant spat with former business partner Donald Trump. Fields happens to be an Indian casino developer, among other business ventures, with the Seminole tribe in Florida — having put together deals for two Hard Rock casinos on Seminole land which would have been overseen by McCain’s tenure helming Senate Indian Affairs. He’s also done other gambling ventures with Steve Wynn, among any number of other gaming moguls. How exactly did he get that shell company deal — and why?
In 1998, this was the public version of McCain:
Because I’m chairman of the Commerce Committee, I see the CEOs of major corporations. Which has nothing to do with campaign donations — I have oversight of their businesses and I’ll see the CEOs. I don’t see the lobbyists, OK? If somebody calls — say if the CEO of PrimeStar wants to see me — I say, "Fine, tell him to come in." But if a lobbyist with PrimeStar calls and says he wants to come in, I say, "No, talk to my staff." But when Gene Kimmelman of the Consumers Union or Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen wants to talk to me, I say, "Come on in." What I try to do is listen to a balanced set of viewpoints, not dictated by campaign contributions or anything else, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians or vegetarians. But there’s nothing wrong with talking to people who are the experts on the issues.
Today, McCain’s campaign is infested with lobbyists from top to bottom, all of whom have used their connection to McCain to form a nexus of client relationships at MCCain’s intersection of power and influence inside the Beltway. Either the prior McCain image was false, or he’s thrown it aside for campaign payola and all the corrupt backroom promises it brings with it.
Back when it seemed like every Republican party official in America had stepped into a sex scandal of their own making, Scott Reed said this:
Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.
Well, if the shoe fits…