McCain Urges More Weapons for Taiwan
By Glenn Kessler
Sen. John McCain today issued a statement urging the administration to add submarines and F-16s aircraft to a $6 billion package of military equipment for Taiwan that the White House unveiled last week.
As it happens, the lobbying firm helmed as recently as May by McCain's chief foreign policy coordinator had a $200,000 contract with Taiwan to provide "advocacy ... with the U.S. Congress and executive branch," which it renewed in June, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.
McCain, in his statement, said the White House did not go far enough when it said it would sell 330 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles and 30 Apache Block III Longbow Attack helicopters -- an announcement which has so angered China that today it canceled senior level visits to the United States.
"The package will not include submarines or new F-16 aircraft. I urge the administration to reconsider this decision, in light of its previous commitment to provide submarines and America's previous sales of F-16s," McCain said.
McCain added: "We should understand that the possibility of productive ties between Taiwan and China are enhanced, not diminished, when Taipei speaks from a position of strength." He concluded that the United States must "stand by this remarkable free and democratic people."
The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether Randy Scheunemann, his foreign policy coordinator, had a role in drafting the statement or if he had recused himself. In an e-mail, spokesman Brian Rogers said, "Senator McCain has a long and consistent record of support for Taiwan, including supporting sales of defensive arms to maintain deterrence and stability in the region."
In 2005, Scheunemann signed the contract between his firm, Orion Strategies LLC, and Taiwan's Washington office. On June 4 of this year, his partner, Mike Mitchell, signed a renewal of the contract, which calls for quarterly payments of $50,000.
Scheunemann's lobbying has attracted attention in the past. 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.
Scheunemann, who was president of Orion, remained with the firm until May 15, when the McCain campaign imposed a tough new anti-lobbyist policy and he was required to separate himself from the company. A McCain campaign official said Scheunemann took a formal leave from Orion and receives no compensation for any Orion activities from that date for the duration of the campaign.
It isn't clear if Scheunemann retains an equity stake in the firm. Mitchell did not return a call for comment.
The Obama campaign said it welcomed Bush's decision to notify Congress of the arms package for Taiwan, but did not call for adding military equipment to it.
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