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Yes that "Maverick" John McCain's presidential campaign is being run by some of K Street's biggest lobbyists. This is a far different picture that the "Straight Talker" image McCain has carefully nurtured for many years.

The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists

In McCain's case, the fact that lobbyists are essentially running his presidential campaign -- most of them as volunteers -- seems to some people to be at odds with his anti-lobbying rhetoric. "He has a closer relationship with lobbyists than he lets on," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "The problem for McCain being so closely associated with lobbyists is that he's the candidate most closely associated with attacking lobbyists."

McCain's head fundraiser ex G.O.P. Rep. Tom Loeffler (also a lobbyist) has a small army of 59 federal lobbyists raising money for McCain. From what I hear money is pouring into the McCain Campaign. These lobbyists can expect to have enhanced access to a McCain White House.

The lobbyist who is closest to McCain is Charles Black Jr. who is McCain's senior political adviser, as well as McCain's longtime friend. In the past Black has also worked for George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole.

But even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member.

Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus.

How convienient! Taking multitasking to a new level Charles Black runs his lobbying firm right from McCain's "Straight Talk Express".

Double Talk Express is more like it.

"It's indisputable that ... his top advisers in this campaign are lobbyists, that many of them have been helping their business on campaign bus," - Barack Obama

Thursday's New York Times story about McCain close relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman was important because it gave Americans a peek under the McCain Campaign's hood, and what we saw was a lobbyist powered presidential campaign.

The McCain scandal has less to do with marital infidelity, and everything to do with influence peddling in the federal government, and McCain's lying about it.

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 09:00 AM PST.

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