Monday, September 22, 2008

Rick Davis, the mortgage crisis, and the corruption at the heart of the McCain campaign

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So McCain's a maverick reformer who, with his maverick reformer sidekick from the "petro-kleptocracy" of Alaska, wants to clean up Washington, huh?

Well...

Senator John McCain's campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.

So reports the Times on Rick Davis.

That would be the Rick Davis who runs the McCain campaign, the campaign that has tried to connect Obama to former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, even running ads to that effect. Contrary to McCain's lies, however, Raines is not an Obama advisor. (And even if he were, so what? McCain takes advice from the likes of Carly Fiorina, the failed former Hewlett-Packard CEO and now a top McCain surrogate. There wouldn't be anything wrong with Obama talking to an important figure like Raines.)

But Davis isn't just a McCain advisor, he's McCain's campaign manager. And he actively campaigned on behalf of those two mortgage giants against additional regulation. In other words, he wasn't just part of the problem, he was a high-paid lobbyist fighting attempts to solve the problem. And why did Fannie and Freddie pay Davis so much money?

The value that he brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again," said Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae.

In other words, they spent a lot of money buying access not to Davis's lobbying skills but directly to McCain. "Because the companies hoped to continue to avoid government regulations of their business practices," adds Steve Benen. And who else to turn to but a powerful senator -- he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for most of 1997-2005 -- with a possibly presidential future?

(And how is the McCain campaign responding? By attacking the Times, of course.)

McCain continues to smear Obama over Rezko, even though there is no evidence of any corruption or wrong-doing on Obama's part, and over Raines, even though he and Obama hardly know each other. And yet here's one of McCain's top aides right in the middle of the mortgage crisis, with Fannie and Freddie buying access to McCain.

Country first? Hardly.

McCain has a history of taking huge sums of money from access-buying industries and of surrounding himself with high-powered Washington lobbyists. (Like Rick Davis.) He is anything but the Mr. Clean that he and his fawning supporters and media enablers make him out to be.

Indeed, like the earmark-grubbing Palin, the corruption-happy McCain is the sordid truth behind the web of lies, deception, and misrepresentation that is being spun and re-spun throughout this campaign.

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