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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain Campaign's Legalistic Response

McCain Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker released this statement to the press:

"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

As Pam Spaulding notes, this is a "a stock response that denies any impropriety in regards to the 'lobbying,' but skirts the issue of infidelity."

In 2005, John McCain made a support of supporting the Arizona no-gay marriage amendment:

"I believe that the institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman, said Sen. McCain. The Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment would allow the people of Arizona to decide on the definition of marriage in our state. I wholeheartedly support the Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment and I hope that the voters in Arizona choose to support it as well."

-- John McCain in 2005, smiling with glee alongside then-chair of Protect Marriage Arizona, the late Lynn Stanley, holding some of the petitions that ensured the measure made it on the ballot.

WaPo's jumped in on this focuses on some of the lobbying connections to the telecomm industry.

In the years that McCain chaired the commerce committee, Iseman lobbied for Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, the head of what used to be Paxson Communications, now Ion Media Networks, and was involved in a successful lobbying campaign to persuade McCain and other members of Congress to send letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Paxson.

In late 1999, McCain wrote two letters to the FCC urging a vote on the sale to Paxson of a Pittsburgh television station. The sale had been highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multipronged lobbying effort among the parties to the deal.

At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.

McCain has argued that the letters merely urged a decision and did not call for action on Paxson's behalf. But when the letters became public, William E. Kennard, chairman of the FCC at the time, denounced them as "highly unusual" coming from McCain, whose committee chairmanship gave him oversight of the agency.

McCain's campaign denied that Iseman or anyone else from her firm or from Paxson "discussed with Senator McCain" the FCC's consideration of the station deal. "Neither Ms. Iseman, nor any representative of Paxson and Alcalde and Fay, personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said.

Still Developing...