As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lobbyists In The Closet

I said earlier that McCain might have some more dirt in the corners of his campaign that avoided last week's spring cleaning. In addition to having Randy Scheunemann, the campaign's top foreign policy advisor, lobbying McCain's Senate staff for the Republic of Georgia while being paid to work on the campaign, there's the issue of Phil Gramm, McCain's top economic advisor, ALSO lobbying Congress on behalf of banking institution UBS in the middle of the housing crisis.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s national campaign general co-chair was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis at the same time he was advising McCain about his economic policy, federal records show. [See sidebar.]

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” reported Tuesday night that lobbying disclosure forms, filed by the giant Swiss bank UBS, list McCain’s campaign co-chair, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, as a lobbyist dealing specifically with legislation regarding the mortgage crisis as recently as Dec. 31, 2007.

Gramm joined the bank in 2002 and had registered as a lobbyist by 2004. UBS filed paperwork deregistering Gramm on April 18 of this year. Gramm continues to serve as a UBS vice chairman.

Gramm's execrable Senate record, which includes easing regulation on energy trading (which directly led to Enron), and undoing the Glass-Steagall Act (which almost directly led to the mortgage mess), ought to be enough to disqualify him from any advisory economic role. But his lobbying for the very companies seeking to stop homeowners facing foreclosure from rewriting their mortgages, which was SUCCESSFUL lobbying, by the way, is really just beyond the pale. The compromise bill worked out in the Senate is far more friendly to the terms set out by Gramm's bosses, and, significantly, John McCain.

We could add to this the fact that Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham are violating the ethics rules laid out by the McCain campaign, serving on the board of an organization running 527 attack ads against Barack Obama. But let that go for a second. Practically McCain's entire staff has major ties to lobbying organizations. The reformer image is virtually dead and buried.

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