Burma, Baby, Burma

By Jennifer Parker

May 12, 2008 11:22am

Sen. John McCain’s campaign has been trying to tie Sen. Barack Obama to the terrorist group Hamas because a Hamas spokesman said kind words about the lanky Illinoisan

The latest to attempt linkage was McCain surrogate Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn. "The fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question, ‘Why?’" Lieberman said. "And it suggests the difference between these two candidates."

The Arizona Republican, meanwhile, had some resignations from his camp over the weekend because of their direct ties to the repressive regime of Myanmar (nee Burma).

Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff reported on Saturday that McCain had tapped Douglas Goodyear, CEO of the lobbying and PR shop DCI Group, run the Republican convention. In 2002, Izzy reported, DCI group took $348,000 to represent Burma’s military junta, to denounce the "falsehoods" pushed by the Bush administration about the regime’s brutality and to urge the US government to "begin a dialogue of political reconciliation" with the junta.

And despite McCain’s record on campaign finance reform, DCI Group has also been on the forefront of running independent 527 organizations, such as the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," which former DCI Group consultant* Chris LaCivita helped run. You may also recall DCI Group, which represents oil interests such as Exxon/Mobil, also was behind that nasty little anti-Al Gore video a few years ago.

Over the weekend, after Izzy’s story broke, both Goodyear and another DCI Group employee, Doug Davenport — a regional campaign manager for McCain in charge of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia — resigned.

Goodyear said he was stepping down so he did not "become a distraction in this campaign," noting that he continues to "strongly support John McCain for president."

Said Davenport: "I have long supported John McCain and do not want anything in my past business career – whether properly depicted or not – to distract the Senator’s campaign."

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun points out that as far as lobbying for foreign interests while working for McCain, apparently Myanmar is a no-no, but China and Saudi Arabia are OK. (The U.S. has diplomatic relations with all three countries, but sanctions only on Myanmar.)

McCain campaign co-chair Thomas Loeffler is a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia. "Since 2006 his firm, the Loeffler Group, has received $10 million from the Saudi Embassy and the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry, according to reports on file with the Foreign Agents Registration Act office at the Justice Department." Loeffler worked directly on the Saudi account.

And senior McCain adviser Charlie Black chaired the BKSH & Associates lobbying firm "when it advised the largely state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation on its ultimately unsuccessful bid to take over Unocal Corp."

The McCain campaign’s response to Gerstein: “Anyone who knows John McCain knows that he stands on principle and he isn’t affected by the relationships of others or of other people’s relationships."

- jpt

* I had originally identified LaCivita as a DCI Group "employee." He emailed to clarify that he was a "consultant" to DCI Group, but not an employee.

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