Is McCain in bed with a telecom lobbyist? We mean that in a metaphorical sense, obviously – the man would need more Viagra than Bob Dole, even. That being said, the world is a-buzz with rumors that McCain maybe did a couple of favors for a girl lobbyist and his campaign is trying to strong-arm the NY Times into sitting on the story. The McCain camp is denying everything. But, having been a girl-lobbyist, Drudge’s story smelled possibly good enough to be true, so I did some digging and made some phone calls and I didn’t find a smoking gun but I do smell something maybe a little fishy, too.
So, Drudge reports that it’s a telecommunications lobbyist who helped McCain write some key legislation and my first thought was, wait, McCain is not at all a thought-leader on telecom legislation. Like, at all. Plus, how is that unusual? What the hell telecom bills have gotten done this year? And so I scoured (with the assistance of a friend who does some telecom work) Thomas (the Library of Congress’ bill info database) and found out that McCain hasn’t been the lead sponsor of a piece of telecom legislation in years, except for one bill introduced in March of this year.
The bill would facilitate the reallocation of portions of the broadcast spectrum in a way that would, oh, I dunno, benefit a couple of companies that have been advocating for it. Two of the companies advocating for the results of the bill McCain introduced are Cyren Call Communications (also here) and FrontLine Wireless. While Frontline has hired 1 lobbying firm (Covington and Burling) to work the issue for them, Cyren Call has hired 5, according to lobbying records.
Three of those firms employ women to work on the issue: Clark and Weinstock, whose lobbyist, Lisa Kountoupes, formed her own consulting firm this fall, hired Julie Hershey Carr and snagged Cyren from them; Fritts Consulting, who with Kathy Ramsey and two men manning the account took in $160,000 from Cyren in the first half of the year; and Wexler Walker, who took in $220,000 for 11 lobbyists (and 2 women- Mary Tripp and Anne Wexler) to lobby the issue before Congress and the Administration in the first half of the year alone. Guess Cyren is expecting the legislation to be pretty damn lucrative for them, if they can get their way on it somehow.
Word is, however, is that most of the other varied interest groups that would on public safety and wireless issues, including (but not limited to) the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, (APCO), the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, actually oppose McCain’s bill because it (surprise) would allow some companies (or a company) to profit off of the spectrum before the public (and public safety organizations) would be able to utilize it for the greater good.
I mean, maybe this isn’t the issue that McCain’s trying to squash the NY Times from writing about, despite Drudge’s assertions that it’s a telecom lobbyist on a telecom bill. Then again, it’s fairly unusual for a Senator with no apparent recent legislative experience or leadership in such a delicate, complicated issue to suddenly weigh in with a piece of legislation that benefits a very small number of corporate interests to the potential detriment of public safety (and, certainly, to the displeasure of certain public officials). Does it mean that he’s doing favors? Possibly, but, like most favors, there aren’t too many footprints and it goes on all the time in Washington. Of course, it’s also funny that it’s suddenly come up the week that his campaign is no longer completely swirling the drain, but that’s another post.