Opinion: Sen. McCain loses image as reformer
"As Sen. John McCain makes daily statements about the conflict in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, his campaign is answering questions regarding how his top foreign policy adviser, lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, made a killing in lobbying fees from the Georgian government.

But that’s not McCain’s only Georgia problem. Ralph Reed is fund-raising for the Arizona senator’s Aug. 18 fund-raiser at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, and that has made even the most ardent McCain backers scratch their heads.

Wasn’t it McCain’s committee that surfaced all the connections between Reed, the former Christian Coalition head, and the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff? Didn’t Reed campaign to defeat McCain during the 2000 presidential primary using sleazy tactics?

Wait, isn’t McCain a reformer? Not so much, apparently.

McCain and Reed certainly have “history.” In 2000, Reed was reportedly behind a smear that played a role in McCain losing the South Carolina primary to George W. Bush. Reed was blamed by some for planting the scurrilous rumor that McCain had fathered an illegitimate African-American child, and by the time the record was corrected, the race was lost.

A few years later, McCain’s Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigated Reed’s work for lobbyist Abramoff. Reed played a central role in a scheme by Abramoff and his associates that defrauded American Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars. Despite Reed’s claims of innocence, his consulting firm was paid $5.3 million from working with Abramoff. His handiwork included using a religious group as a front for one casino-rich tribe to pay for an anti-casino campaign against another competing tribe.

Also well-known was Reed’s work to defeat legislation that would have protected workers in the Northern Marianas who were subject to brutal conditions, like forced abortions and prostitution."

Get the Story:
David Donnelly: Reformer McCain is long gone (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 8/15)

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