After McCain Plug, D.C. Group Returns Favor
In the first two presidential debates, Sen. John McCain made a point of praising a Washington nonprofit group that releases an annual list of perceived wasteful government earmark spending -- Citizens Against Government Waste. He even suggested that viewers "go up on the Web site of Citizens Against Government Waste, and they'll look at those projects." In Nashville, last week, McCain again told voters to stop by the nonprofit's Web site, calling it a watchdog organization that watches the candidates "all the time." (CNN transcripts of the first and second presidential debates.)
McCain did not mention his longtime ties to the group, which were reported in The Post earlier this year.
After McCain's plug during the debate, Citizens Against Government Waste said its online traffic increased by 1,000 percent, National Public Radio reports. Soon after, the group's political action committee began calling McCain a "taxpayer hero" in TV ads airing over the next two weeks in four critical battleground states -- Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
"In 25 years, McCain never requested a single pork-barrel spending project. Not a dime in special-interest earmarks," the advertisement says. "Barack Obama? $740 million in special-interest earmarks in just three years. There's nothing Washington's tax-and-spend politicians fear more than John McCain in the White House."
The Post's Robert O'Harrow wrote in May about the relationship between McCain and the nonprofit. After McCain supported the Air Force's decision last year to award a $40 billion tanker deal to Northrop Grumman and its European partner, the group's PAC partnered with the defense contractors and one of its consultants to "produce a vitriolic advertising campaign defending the tanker deal," O'Harrow reported.
Formed in 1984, the group has long promoted McCain's image as a taxpayer advocate. Since 2006, the nonprofit's board of directors has included Orson Swindle, who also works on veterans issues as a volunteer for the McCain campaign. The group's lobbying arm, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, has twice supported McCain for president. Its PAC has donated $11,000 in cash to McCain or a PAC under his control since 2004 -- 20 times as much cash as it has given any other candidate, records show.
O'Harrow on McCain's connections to Citizens Against Government Waste
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