September 18th, 2008
03:09 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: McCain's leading lobbyists?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="What are the facts about McCain's history with lobbyists? "]The statement:

At a campaign stop Wednesday, September 17, in Elko, Nevada, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama said Republican rival Sen. John McCain "is somebody who's been in Congress for 26 years - who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign and now he tells us that he's the one who's going to take on the old boys network." He then added the applause line: "The old boys network - in the McCain campaign, that's called a staff meeting."

Get the facts after the jump!

The facts
McCain does have people who have registered to lobby Congress as both staff members and unpaid advisers. As CNN's Ed Henry reported September 9, the seven Obama refers to include campaign manager Rick Davis, a high-profile lobbyist whose clients have included telecommunications companies, and senior adviser Charlie Black, whose lobbying has included working with dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now Congo) and rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in Angola.

McCain's senior foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann recently faced scrutiny over his foreign lobbying on behalf of the Republic of Georgia. While the claim that the staffers with lobbying connections are "in charge of his campaign" would be impossible to prove from the outside, members of the seven have appeared publicly on behalf of the campaign and have titles that would suggest they are part of McCain's inner circle.

The public watchdog group Public Citizen has praised McCain's record for trying to curb lobbyist influence in the Senate. And Obama's campaign isn't without its own members with a history as lobbyists. Daniel Shapiro, an Obama foreign policy adviser, has registered to lobby for the American Petroleum Institute. Another unpaid adviser, Broderick Johnson, has represented clients including
Verizon and Shell Oil.

The verdict: True, but Obama's campaign also includes some lobbyists.

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