McCain's Finance Co-Chair Resigns in Ongoing Lobbyist Purge
By Michael D. Shear
Tom Loeffler, the national finance co-chair for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, resigned from the campaign today because of his lobbying ties, a campaign adviser said.
His is the fifth person to sever ties with the campaign amid a growing concern about whether lobbyists have too great an influence over McCain and the campaign. Last week, campaign manager Rick Davis issued a new policy that requires all campaign personnel to either resign or sever ties with lobbying firms or outside political groups.
"The campaign over the last week or so obviously had a perception problem with regards with this whole business of lobbyists and their work," said spokesman Brian Rogers. "This is really all about setting a policy so that we can just get through that perception problem and the issues that come up with regards to lobbyists affiliated with the campaign and move on."
McCain, who has built his reputation in Congress on fighting the special interests and the lobbying culture, has been criticized for months about the number of lobbyists that serve in top positions in his campaign.
Until recently, his top political adviser, Charlie Black, was the head of a Washington lobbying firm. Black retired from the firm to stay with the campaign. Davis ran a lobbying firm for several years but has said he is on leave from that firm.
The pressure on McCain intensified in the last week amid concerns about people connected to the campaign lobbying the military government in Burma.
Regional campaign manager Doug Davenport and Republican convention chief Doug Goodyear departed after acknowledging having represented Burma. Eric Burgeson, who lobbies the federal government on energy issues, left Thursday. GOP consultant Craig Shirley parted ways with the campaign because of his ties to stophernow.com, an attack site created to target Sen. Hillary Clinton that is now aimed at Sen. Barack Obama.
"Everyone is coming into compliance. To the extent that there are others that are dealing with this, then potentially there will be more activity on this," Rogers said. "It really becomes a distraction from the issues we want to talk about in this campaign."
Loeffler, a former Texas member of Congress, is a close, personal friend of McCain's and took over the fundraising last summer, when McCain's campaign was falling apart. But Loeffler's lobbying of Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments were revealed over the weekend.
Newsweek reported that Loeffler's firm, The Loeffler Group, had collected $15 million from Saudi Arabia and millions more from other foreign governments. Loeffler is listed as chairman and senior partner at the firm.
Rogers declined to comment about Loeffler or to say whether other campaign aides are likely to resign in the coming days. Davis and Black have not given any indication they intend to leave the campaign.
Loeffler did not respond to e-mails or a message left on his office voicemail.
The new policy issued by Davis states that "No person working for the Campaign may be a registered lobbyist or foreign agent, or receive compensation for any such activity."
It also says that "No person with a McCain Campaign title or position may participate in a 527 or other independent entity that makes public communications that support or oppose any presidential candidate."
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