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McCain Staffers Run Afoul of Campaign Ethics Policy

By Michael D. Shear
LOUISVILLE -- The campaign of Sen. John McCain continued to dismiss staffers this week for violating the campaign's new ethics policy as Democrats ratcheted up pressure on some of McCain's top advisers for their lobbying backgrounds.

McCain dismissed two staffers Thursday after unveiling the new policy, which prohibits staffers from lobbying or representing a foreign agent or participating in a 527 political group. One staffer,
Craig Shirley, was dismissed after Politico reported that he worked for a group called stophernow.com, an attack site created to target Sen. Hillary Clinton that is now aimed at Sen. Barack Obama.

The other aide, Eric Burgeson, left Thursday after it was disclosed that he lobbies the federal government on energy policy, the Miami Herald reported.

McCain's campaign created the policy in the wake of two other forced departures -- regional campaign manager Doug Davenport and Republican convention chief Doug Goodyear -- for representing the military government in Burma.

Democrats seized on the issue today, with the liberal group MoveOn.org releasing an ad calling on McCain to dismiss top adviser Charlie Black, who until recently was the head of a large D.C.-based lobbying firm. The ad accuses Black of representing "the world's worst
tyrants" and urged viewers to call McCain's campaign demanding his departure.

"Charlie Black said he didn't do anything wrong," the ad concludes. "John McCain should tell Black he did. Call John McCain and tell him to fire Charlie Black."

Asked about the issue while campaigning in West Virginia and Kentucky, McCain shrugged it off, saying that the creation of the new ethics policy should solve the problem. "We saw a problem, fixed it," he said.

And he defended Black and his campaign manager Rick Davis, who has also come under fire.

"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.''

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 16, 2008; 4:03 PM ET
 
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