Mccain's Secret Anti-lobbyist Plan

by The New Republic | April 2, 2008

How do you get rid of lobbyists? By hiring them all onto your campaign, evidently. Ambinder:

Doug Davenport, a founder of the DCI Group and the head of its lobbying practice, will be one of the McCain campaign's ten regional campaign managers, Republicans close to the campaign said yesterday. Before helping to start DCI, Davenport was the chief lobbyist for a major lottery company. DCI's federal clients include telecoms, defense contractors, big PhRMA and mortgage lenders. Davenport is close to McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis. DCI Group is ground zero for Republican astroturf lobbying -- it specializes in setting up "grassroots" coalitions that ostensibly represent critical interest groups or wide swaths of voters....

Davenport's new position is certain to precipitate complaints from rivals that McCain is packing his campaign with the lobbyists whose conduct he has denounced. McCain's advisers have said that McCain's credentials as a reformer are solid and can overcome any optics problem that comes along with hiring lobbyists. They say that he is unfairly held to a higher standard than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. "I don't remember McCain ever saying that making an honest living was wrong," a senior campaign adviser said last night. "He has inveighed against politicians who value relationships with lobbyists and donations more than the public interest."

Maybe McCain can slice it this fine, but I wouldn't count on it. I can't imagine it would be hard to find plenty of ad-worthy instances of him inveighing against lobbyists in far less narrow terms. And nuance is not generally something you want to rely on in a general election. Will it be a decisive issue? Of course not. But the high prevalence of lobbyists within his campaign could take a bit of the shine off his reformer image.

--Christopher Orr

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