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

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why Is Randy Scheunemann Still Employed?

This is indicative of John McCain's entire campaign.

Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.

The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.

The McCain campaign said Georgia's lobbying contract with Orion Strategies had no bearing on the candidate's decision to speak with President Mikheil Saakashvili and did not influence his statement. "The Embassy of Georgia requested the call," said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

Um, so what? The guy's a registered lobbyist for a foreign agent embroiled in a conflict with the Russians. McCain has rushed to Georgia's side, telling the country that "we are all Georgians." His top foreign policy advisor is being paid by them. Can you say "conflict of interest"?

Scheunemann is a C-level neocon, and Georgia is a C-level neocon entity, but the fact that this war has burst to the surface not only gives the appearance of impropriety, it damages our foreign policy. You can't tell me that this isn't very harmful.

(CNN) – Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday called for John McCain and other American leaders to do more for Georgia in their response to the conflict in his country.

“Yesterday, I heard Sen. McCain say, ‘We are all Georgians now,’” Saakashvili said on CNN’s American Morning. “Well, very nice, you know, very cheering for us to hear that, but OK, it’s time to pass from this. From words to deeds.”

So McCain's freelancing is putting pressure on the Bush Administration to act - by attacking the Russians or something just as foolhardy. And there's a foreign lobbyist right in the middle of all this.

Scheunemann should clearly be fired. But I think Obama's campaign has this right:

Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for the Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, said Scheunemann's business ties to Georgia raise questions about how much he influenced McCain's position on the Georgia conflict.

"It's these sorts of appearances of a conflict of interest that are a natural consequence of having a campaign run by lobbyists, staffed by lobbyists and being ensconced in a lobbyist culture for over a quarter of a century," Sevugan said.

It's bigger than Scheunemann. It's about the culture of Washington that permits this gross conflict of interest.

Think Progress has more on how Scheunemann likely orchestrated McCain's nomination of Saakashvili for the Nobel Prize, for his own financial gain. This is unbelievable.

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