ABC News’ Ron Claiborne reports: The Obama campaign is continuing to hammer Republican Sen. John McCain for former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed’s involvement in a McCain fundraising event in Atlanta.
Reed — who didn’t show up to McCain’s fundraiser tonight — was implicated, but not charged, in lobbying deals involving Indian casinos with disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. McCain participated in the congressional probe of Abramoff’s lobbying. Abramoff is now serving time at a minimum security federal prison in Maryland.
Reed had e-mailed supporters and friends to urge them to give to the McCain campaign and instructed potential donors to send contributions directly to him, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. Reed told the paper he sent the e-mail at the request of the campaign and was given boilerplate language to use.
The Obama campaign sent an e-mail to reporters Monday citing "rumors" that McCain uninvited Reed to tonight’s fundraiser at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta.
"Faced with the embarrassing prospect of holding a fundraiser with one of Jack Abramoff’s closest associates, the McCain campaign scrambled today to scratch Ralph Reed from tonight’s program, but voters deserve to know the answers to the real questions raised by Reed’s involvement," said Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.
"Will Senator McCain keep the money Reed has raised for him, and is Reed is a member of the McCain Victory 2008 team? If the McCain campaign won’t return the money Reed has raised for them, then voters should rightly ask why it matters that Reed didn’t show up at tonight’s event. The real question isn’t why Reed isn’t showing up, but why a so-called reformer would invite him at all," Vietor said.
Reed said he had agreed to be on McCain’s "Victory 2008 Team" in an e-mail that solicited donations on McCain’s behalf and urged his fellow Georgia Republicans to attend the fundraiser.
However when asked about Reed, the McCain campaign says Reed is not part of the Victory 2008 group and is not on the host committee of tonight’s fundraiser.
A McCain campaign aide tells ABC News that Reed sent out an email solicitation on his own encouraging people to support Senator McCain, but was not invited to the fundraiser.
Another McCain aide said Reed has nothing to do with the campaign, hadn’t donated to it, and was not acting on the campaign’s behalf in the solicitation e-mail.
Late Monday evening as the fundraiser was ending, a McCain campaign official told ABC News Reed would not be at the fundraiser. The McCain campaign wouldn’t say whether he was dissuaded from doing so.
In an Internet ad last week called "Tainted," the Democrats alleged that McCain is turning to an Abramoff "crony" to raise campaign cash.
"While most people now see Ralph Reed as a tainted man raising tainted money, John McCain sees him as a source of campaign cash," the ad says.