Wednesday, August 13, 2008

While aid advises McCain, his firm continues lobbying for Georgia

This is from The Washington Post:

Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.

The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.

The McCain campaign said Georgia's lobbying contract with Orion Strategies had no bearing on the candidate's decision to speak with President Mikheil Saakashvili and did not influence his statement. "The Embassy of Georgia requested the call," said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

But ethics experts have raised concerns about former lobbyists for foreign governments providing advice to presidential candidates about those same countries. "The question is, who is the client? Is the adviser loyal to income from a foreign client, or is he loyal to the candidate he is working for now?" said James Thurber, a lobbying expert at American University. "It's dangerous if you're getting advice from people who are very close to countries on one side or another of a conflict."

At the time of McCain's call, Scheunemann had formally ceased his own lobbying work for Georgia, according to federal disclosure reports. But he was still part of Orion Strategies, which had only two lobbyists, himself and Mike Mitchell.

Scheunemann remained with the firm for another month, until May 15, when the McCain campaign imposed a tough new anti-lobbyist policy and he was required to separate himself from the company.

Rogers said Scheunemann "receives no compensation of any type from Orion Strategies and has not since May 15, 2008." Scheunemann declined to be interviewed for this story.

This is really a must-read story providing details on Scheunemann's lobbying ties with the Georgian government, and his foreign policy advising role within the McCain campaign. It brings up a serious question of who is Scheunemann really working for, as he advises McCain on the Georgia crisis? Is Scheunemann advising McCain on the Georgia crisis for the benefit of the U.S. government and their policy in the region, or is Scheunemann advising McCain for the benefit of his lobbying firm's profitable contract with the Georgian government. According to the WaPost story:

For months while McCain's presidential campaign was gearing up, Scheunemann held dual roles, advising the candidate on foreign policy while working as Georgia's lobbyist. Between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 to provide foreign policy advice. During the same period, the government of Georgia paid his firm $290,000 in lobbying fees.

Since 2004, Orion has collected $800,000 from the government of Georgia.

Seems that Scheunemann's firm, Orion Strategies, has received $800,000 from the Georgian government since 2004. And I'm certainly sure that with McCain throwing his support for Georgia, during this conflict with Russia, that the Georgian government will continue to contract with Scheunemann's lobbying firm--especially if McCain is elected into office and Scheunemann takes a prime government role within the McCain administration. This stinks of the prospect that lobbyists, like Scheunemann, are running McCain's campaign for their own outright greed. They are crafting policy positions which will benefit their own lobbying firms. If McCain is elected president, you can bet that the lobbyists that control McCain's campaign, will use the McCain administration to implement such policy positions to profit their lobbying firms.

We can't allow McCain to be elected into the White House.

No comments: