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Mccain's Never-ending Lobbyist Problem

The Washington Post gets at the (tactical) problem with McCain's sorta serious no lobbyist or foreign-agent policy for campaign personnel: Where does it end? As McCain himself points out, Republican campaigns are traditionally manned by lobbyists. That's just what Republicans (and, in fairness, a lot of Democrats) do between election cycles. (What's more, you'd expect a lot of them to hedge their bets and maintain ties to the lobbying world in a year when the Democrats are favored.)

In particular, I don't see how questions about strategist Charlie Black and campaign manager Rick Davis won't continue to dog him. And he's lent legitimacy to the criticism with the past week's round of resignations.

Here's the Post:  

McCain has built his reputation in Congress on fighting special interests and the lobbying culture, but he has been criticized for months about the number of lobbyists serving in key positions in his campaign. Until recently, his top political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., was the head of a Washington lobbying firm. Black retired in March from BKSH & Associates, the firm he helped found, to stay with the campaign. Davis ran a lobbying firm for several years but has said he is on leave from it.

Black, in particular, remains in the cross hairs of McCain's critics. Campaign Money Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, yesterday praised Loeffler's departure but renewed its call for Black's departure. The group has launched a Web site,, to urge McCain to rid his campaign of their influence. Loeffler's lobbying for Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments was revealed over the weekend.

McCain has steadfastly defended Black and Davis. "Charlie Black and Rick Davis are not in the lobbying business; they've been out of that business," he told reporters. "Charlie Black has been involved in every presidential campaign going back to President Reagan's first campaign. He has severed his connections with the lobbying group that he was with. Rick Davis has not been involved in any lobbying for years."

Hard to believe that's the last thing McCain will have to say about Black and Davis.

--Noam Scheiber