This Time, it’s Telecoms

More lobbyists in McCain’s campaign have been discovered. Amazing how this whole thing is turning out to be markedly similar to the roach theorem, where if you see one or two, there are probably ten or more hiding in the cabinets. This time, it’s lobbyists pushing for full immunity to telecommunications companies that illegally wiretapped US citizens.

Here are the three lobbyists with their current positions and backgrounds, as reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (most of this article heavily cribbed from that one):

Charlie Black – Chief Political Advisor for the McCain Campaign
Formerly of BKSH & Associates, a lobbying firm he helped found, was being paid by AT&T until March of 2008Wayne Berman – National Finance Co-Chairman for the McCain Campaign
Formerly Managing Director of Ogilvy Government Relations, a prominent lobbyist for telecom immunity in the FISA legislation

Dan Coats – Justice Advisory Committee Member of the McCain Campaign
Campaigned extensively for McCain along with Trent Lott, who became a paid lobbyist for AT&T after leaving the Senate in 2007 and was seeking immunity for the telecoms

Also in the article from the EFF is a note that USA Today found the following:

Of the 66 current or former lobbyists working for the Arizona senator or raising money for his presidential campaign, 23 have lobbied for telecommunications companies in the past decade.People who lobbied for telecom companies on those issues include McCain’s campaign manager, his deputy manager, his finance chief, his top unpaid political adviser and his Senate chief of staff. Telecom companies have paid the lobbying firms that employed those top five McCain advisers more than $4.4 million since 1999, lobbying records show.

And just as McCain’s close ties with Soviet Bloc lobbyists have shaped his foreign policy views on Russia, so apparently have his ties with telecom lobbyists changed his views on immunity for illegal wiretapping. While initially appalled at the thought that telecoms would provide information to the government without any justification (warrant, subpoena, etc.), he has since said “neither the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate.”

Quite different from November 2007, when McCain told CNET the following:

When companies provide private records of Americans to the government without proper legal subpoena, warrants, or other legal orders, their heart may be in the right place, but their actions undermine our respect for the law….

If retroactive immunity passes, it should be done with explicit statements that this is not a blessing, there should be oversight hearings to understand what happened, and Congress should include provisions that ensure that Americans’ private records will not be dealt with like that again.

So where is the “uninfluenced McCain?” How is it that his thoughts on such Constitutional legal matters can change in a matter of months if not for the influence of lobbyists? Can some conservative please explain it? I mean, McCain is supposed to be this pillar of political cleanliness. Isn’t he?

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