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January 25, 2008

McCain's Hispanic Outreach Director Has His Usual Salary Paid By... George Soros

The Reform Institute, which pays Hernandez when he isn't on the Straight Talk Express, is funded by a a welter of left-wing organizations, including Soros-controlled ones. Why are they so keen on it, and how is Reagan Conservative John McCain so closely connected to this outfit?

Remember that McCain/lobbyist scandal we heard about that McCain successfully got his new endorser, the NYT, to spike?

Have bloggers and others dug up what that scandal was about?

Read Michelle and consider what is going on here.

The Reform Institute is a tax-exempt, supposedly independent 501(c)(3) group, as Ed Morrissey noted two years ago, “that employs Rick Davis, who also works on McCain’s staff as his chief political advisor, and they pay him $110,000 per year. The Reform Institute has often supported McCain, paid for events highlighting him and his agenda, presumably including campaign finance reform.” The Reform Institute received $200,000 in donations from Cablevision…and McCain basically tried to intervene on Cablevision’s behalf by writing a letter to the FCC supporting its regulatory agenda. Morrissey noted at the time: “[T]he Reform Institute helps keep McCain’s staff gainfully employed between campaigns, allowing McCain to do less fundraising while retaining the best of the available talent. For instance, Carl Hulse and Ann Kornblut note that Rick Davis managed McCain’s presidential campaign in 2000 before founding Reform Institute. Now its president, he gets over $100,000 a year from RI for “consulting services”. That money allows Davis to remain available for McCain’s future campaigns, and the funding he raises for RI gives him inroads for building support.”

Yep. Which is exactly how it worked out. Davis is now McCain’s campaign manager.

Shouldn't Mr. Campaign Finance Reform resist taking on staffers whose salaries are substantially paid for by lobbyist groups, thereby subsidizing his campaign with an in-kind donation of cheap labor? Especially lobbying groups for whose clients he does political favors?

Isn't that a deliberate evasion of contribution limits? Isn't that effectively taking huge piles of cash from a lobbyist in the form of paid labor?

Even if this is all legal -- which I assume it basically is -- shouldn't Mr. Campaign Finance Reform be more Catholic than the Pope on his signature issue?

Riehl's on it too.

He adds an update:

As for the Reform Institute, a lobbyist who knows McCain well says bluntly: "The Reform Institute is McCain's Achilles heel." Engaging in political activity would have violated the institute's tax-exempt status, but McCain, campaign aides, and institute officials all deny that the organization has played any role in promoting his presidential candidacy.

Clarification: Of course campaign staffers do not work a couple of months every two or four years. They have jobs in the interim - - usually as lobbyists.

The problem here is that the Reform Institute seems especially connected to McCain, and especially interested in promoting his agenda. And staffers seem to move fluidly between McCain's staff and the Reform Institute. And, of course, McCain served on its Advisory Board in the past. He seems to have resigned to avoid questions of conflicts of interest, or to avoid jeopardizing its tax-exempt status.

For a guy who campaigned on closing campaign donation loopholes and limiting how much money could flow from special interests to candidates, he seems to be exploiting a pretty big loophole.

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posted by Ace at 06:33 PM

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