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McCain had a close relationship with 40 year old female lobbyist Vicki Iseman


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Kristina
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« on: February 20, 2008, 07:05:24 pm »

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk



Senator John McCain conferred with his lawyers before testifying in January 1991 before the Senate Ethics Committee regarding his involvement with Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings and Loan.

By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON
Published: February 21, 2008
WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.


 
Stephen Boitano/Getty Images
Vicki Iseman at an awards dinner in 2004.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, in his offices and aboard a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s clients, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)

Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor. He has criticized the cozy ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, but is relying on corporate lobbyists to donate their time running his presidential race and recently hired a lobbyist to run his Senate office.

“He is essentially an honorable person,” said William P. Cheshire, a friend of Mr. McCain who as editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic defended him during the Keating Five scandal. “But he can be imprudent.”

Mr. Cheshire added, “That imprudence or recklessness may be part of why he was not more astute about the risks he was running with this shady operator,” Charles Keating, whose ties to Mr. McCain and four other lawmakers tainted them in the savings and loan debacle.

During his current campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. McCain has played down his attacks on the corrupting power of money in politics, aware that the stricter regulations he championed are unpopular in his party. When the Senate overhauled lobbying and ethics rules last year, Mr. McCain was not among the leaders in the debate.

With his nomination this year all but certain, though, he is reminding voters again of his record of reform. His campaign has already begun comparing his credentials with those of Senator Barack Obama, a Democratic contender who has made lobbying and ethics rules a centerpiece of his own pitch to voters.

“I would very much like to think that I have never been a man whose favor can be bought,” Mr. McCain wrote about his Keating experience in his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For.” “From my earliest youth, I would have considered such a reputation to be the most shameful ignominy imaginable. Yet that is exactly how millions of Americans viewed me for a time, a time that I will forever consider one of the worst experiences of my life.”

A drive to expunge the stain on his reputation in time turned into a zeal to cleanse Washington as well. The episode taught him that “questions of honor are raised as much by appearances as by reality in politics,” he wrote, “and because they incite public distrust they need to be addressed no less directly than we would address evidence of expressly illegal corruption.”
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 07:06:26 pm by Kristina » Report Spam   Logged

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Kristina
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2008, 07:07:21 pm »

Mr. McCain started his career like many other aspiring politicians, eagerly courting the wealthy and powerful. A Vietnam war hero and Senate liaison for the Navy, he arrived in Arizona in 1980 after his second marriage, to Cindy Hensley, the heiress to a beer fortune there. He quickly started looking for a Congressional district where he could run.

Mr. Keating, a Phoenix banker and real estate developer, became an early sponsor and, soon, a friend. He was a man of great confidence and daring, Mr. McCain recalled in his memoir. “People like that appeal to me,” he continued. “I have sometimes forgotten that wisdom and a strong sense of public responsibility are much more admirable qualities.”

During Mr. McCain’s four years in the House, Mr. Keating, his family and his business associates contributed heavily to his political campaigns. The banker gave Mr. McCain free rides on his private jet, a violation of Congressional ethics rules (he eventually paid for the trips). They vacationed together in the Bahamas. And in 1986, the year Mr. McCain was elected to the Senate, his wife joined Mr. Keating in investing in an Arizona shopping mall.

Mr. Keating had taken over a California thrift institution, the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, and used its federally insured deposits to **** on risky real estate and other investments. He pressed Mr. McCain and other lawmakers to help hold back federal banking regulators. For years, Mr. McCain complied. At Mr. Keating’s request, he wrote several letters to regulators, introduced legislation and helped secure the nomination of a Keating associate to a banking regulatory board.

By early 1987, though, the thrift was careering toward disaster. Mr. McCain agreed to join several senators, eventually known as the Keating Five, for two private meetings with regulators to urge them to ease up. “Why didn’t I fully grasp the unusual appearance of such a meeting?” Mr. McCain later lamented in his memoir.

When Lincoln went bankrupt in 1989 — one of the biggest collapses of the savings and loan crisis, costing taxpayers $3.4 billion — the Keating Five became infamous. The scandal sent Mr. Keating to prison and ended the careers of three senators, who were censured in 1991 for intervening. Mr. McCain, who had been a less aggressive advocate for Mr. Keating than the others, was reprimanded for “poor judgment” but was re-elected the next year.

Some people involved think Mr. McCain got off too lightly. William Black, one of the banking regulators the senator met with, argued that Mrs. McCain’s investment with Mr. Keating created an obvious conflict of interest for her husband. (Mr. McCain had said a prenuptial agreement divided the couple’s assets.) He should not be able to “put this behind him,” Mr. Black said. “It sullied his integrity.”

Mr. McCain has since described the episode as a unique humiliation. “If I do not repress the memory, its recollection still provokes a vague but real feeling that I had lost something very important,” he wrote in his memoir. “I still wince thinking about it.”

A New Chosen Cause

After the Republican takeover of the Senate in 1994, Mr. McCain decided to try to put some of the lessons he had learned into law. He started by attacking earmarks, the pet projects that individual lawmakers could insert anonymously into the fine print of giant spending bills, a recipe for corruption. But he quickly moved on to other targets, most notably political fund-raising.

Mr. McCain earned the lasting animosity of many conservatives, who argue that his push for fund-raising restrictions trampled free speech, and of many of his Senate colleagues, who bristled that he was preaching to them so soon after his own repentance. In debates, his party’s leaders challenged him to name a single senator he considered corrupt (he refused).

“We used to joke that each of us was the only one eating alone in our caucus,” said Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, who became Mr. McCain’s partner on campaign finance efforts.

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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2008, 07:08:48 pm »

Mr. McCain appeared motivated less by the usual ideas about good governance than by a more visceral disapproval of the gifts, meals and money that influence seekers shower on lawmakers, Mr. Feingold said. “It had to do with his sense of honor,” he said. “He saw this stuff as cheating.”

Mr. McCain made loosening the grip of special interests the central cause of his 2000 presidential campaign, inviting scrutiny of his own ethics. His Republican rival, George W. Bush, accused him of “double talk” for soliciting campaign contributions from companies with interests that came before the powerful Senate commerce committee, of which Mr. McCain was chairman. Mr. Bush’s allies called Mr. McCain “sanctimonious.”

At one point, his campaign invited scores of lobbyists to a fund-raiser at the Willard Hotel in Washington. While Bush supporters stood mocking outside, the McCain team tried to defend his integrity by handing the lobbyists buttons reading “ McCain voted against my bill.” Mr. McCain himself skipped the event, an act he later called “cowardly.”

By 2002, he had succeeded in passing the McCain-Feingold Act, which transformed American politics by banning “soft money,” the unlimited donations from corporations, unions and the rich that were funneled through the two political parties to get around previous laws.

One of his efforts, though, seemed self-contradictory. In 2001, he helped found the nonprofit Reform Institute to promote his cause and, in the process, his career. It collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlimited donations from companies that lobbied the Senate commerce committee. Mr. McCain initially said he saw no problems with the financing, but he severed his ties to the institute in 2005, complaining of “bad publicity” after news reports of the arrangement.

Like other presidential candidates, he has relied on lobbyists to run his campaigns. Since a cash crunch last summer, several of them — including his campaign manager, Rick Davis, who represented companies before Mr. McCain’s Senate panel — have been working without pay, a gift that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has hired another lobbyist, Mark Buse, to run his Senate office. In his case, it was a round trip through the revolving door: Mr. Buse had directed Mr. McCain’s committee staff for seven years before leaving in 2001 to lobby for telecommunications companies.

Mr. McCain’s friends dismiss questions about his ties to lobbyists, arguing that he has too much integrity to let such personal connections influence him.

“Unless he gives you special treatment or takes legislative action against his own views, I don’t think his personal and social relationships matter,” said Charles Black, a friend and campaign adviser who has previously lobbied the senator for aviation, broadcasting and tobacco concerns.

Concerns in a Campaign

Mr. McCain’s confidence in his ability to distinguish personal friendships from compromising connections was at the center of questions advisers raised about Ms. Iseman.

The lobbyist, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain’s commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns.

Mr. Black said Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman were friends and nothing more. But in 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, “Why is she always around?”

That February, Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications. By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene.

A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices.

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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2008, 07:09:59 pm »

In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.

Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.

“Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on the special interests and placing the nation’s interests before either personal or special interest,” Mr. Weaver continued. “Ms. Iseman’s involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort.”

Mr. Weaver added that the brief conversation was only about “her conduct and what she allegedly had told people, which made its way back to us.” He declined to elaborate.

It is not clear what effect the warnings had; the associates said their concerns receded in the heat of the campaign.

Ms. Iseman acknowledged meeting with Mr. Weaver, but disputed his account.

“I never discussed with him alleged things I had ‘told people,’ that had made their way ‘back to’ him,” she wrote in an e-mail message. She said she never received special treatment from Mr. McCain or his office.

Mr. McCain said that the relationship was not romantic and that he never showed favoritism to Ms. Iseman or her clients. “I have never betrayed the public trust by doing anything like that,” he said. He made the statements in a call to Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, to complain about the paper’s inquiries.

The senator declined repeated interview requests, beginning in December. He also would not comment about the assertions that he had been confronted about Ms. Iseman, Mr. Black said Wednesday.

Mr. Davis and Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s top strategists in both of his presidential campaigns, disputed accounts from the former associates and aides and said they did not discuss Ms. Iseman with the senator or colleagues.

“I never had any good reason to think that the relationship was anything other than professional, a friendly professional relationship,” Mr. Salter said in an interview.

He and Mr. Davis also said Mr. McCain had frequently denied requests from Ms. Iseman and the companies she represented. In 2006, Mr. McCain sought to break up cable subscription packages, which some of her clients opposed. And his proposals for satellite distribution of local television programs fell short of her clients’ hopes.

The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman’s clients only when their positions hewed to his principles

A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain wrote letters in 1998 and 1999 to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to uphold marketing agreements allowing a television company to control two stations in the same city, a crucial issue for Glencairn Ltd., one of Ms. Iseman’s clients. He introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. And he twice tried to advance legislation that would permit a company to control television stations in overlapping markets, an important issue for Paxson.

In late 1999, Ms. Iseman asked Mr. McCain’s staff to send a letter to the commission to help Paxson, now Ion Media Networks, on another matter. Mr. Paxson was impatient for F.C.C. approval of a television deal, and Ms. Iseman acknowledged in an e-mail message to The Times that she had sent to Mr. McCain’s staff information for drafting a letter urging a swift decision.

Mr. McCain complied. He sent two letters to the commission, drawing a rare rebuke for interference from its chairman. In an embarrassing turn for the campaign, news reports invoked the Keating scandal, once again raising questions about intervening for a patron.

Mr. McCain’s aides released all of his letters to the F.C.C. to dispel accusations of favoritism, and aides said the campaign had properly accounted for four trips on the Paxson plane. But the campaign did not report the flight with Ms. Iseman. Mr. McCain’s advisers say he was not required to disclose the flight, but ethics lawyers dispute that.

Recalling the Paxson episode in his memoir, Mr. McCain said he was merely trying to push along a slow-moving bureaucracy, but added that he was not surprised by the criticism given his history.

“Any hint that I might have acted to reward a supporter,” he wrote, “would be taken as an egregious act of hypocrisy.”

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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2008, 07:28:46 pm »



VICKI ISEMAN

Vicki Iseman, Partner, represents corporate and public clients on issues as diverse as government contracting and regulatory reform. Her experience includes representation of clients before Congress, Federal government agencies and local opinion leaders.

She has extensive experience in telecommunications, representing corporations before the House and Senate Commerce Committees. Her work on the landmark 1992 and 1996 communications bills helped secure cable access for broadcast television stations. Her experience in the communications field includes digital television conversion, satellite regulations and telecommunications ownership provisions.

She has been active in grassroots communications campaigns for clients, building community based support for legislative initiatives. Among others, she participated in the "Keep America Moving" campaign that educated community leaders on the allocation of Federal highway trust funds.

In addition, she has consulted for clients who are interested in government contracting opportunities. She has assisted corporations through the authorization and appropriation process. An active fundraiser, she has organized and participated in many political fundraising events.

A native of Pennsylvania, she holds a B.A. degree in Education from Indiana University in Pennsylvania.

email:

iseman@alcalde-fay.com

http://www.alcalde-fay.com/meet_the_firm/BiosDetail.cfm?id=44
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2008, 07:25:52 am »

McCain's Ties To Lobbyist Worried Aides
Before 2000 Campaign, Advisers Tried to Bar Her
 


By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Michael D Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 21, 2008; Page A01

Aides to Sen. John McCain confronted a telecommunications lobbyist in late 1999 and asked her to distance herself from the senator during the presidential campaign he was about to launch, according to one of McCain's longest-serving political strategists.

John Weaver, who was McCain's closest confidant until leaving his current campaign last year, said he met with Vicki Iseman at the Center Cafe at Union Station and urged her to stay away from McCain. Association with a lobbyist would undermine his image as an opponent of special interests, aides had concluded.

Members of the senator's small circle of advisers also confronted McCain directly, according to sources, warning him that his continued ties to a lobbyist who had business before the powerful commerce committee he chaired threatened to derail his presidential ambitions.

The New York Times published a lengthy article on its Web site last night detailing McCain's ties to Iseman. "It's a shame that the New York Times has chosen to smear John McCain like this," said Charles R. Black Jr., a top adviser to McCain's current presidential campaign and the head of a Washington lobbying firm called BKSH & Associates. "Neither Senator McCain nor the campaign will dignify false rumors and gossip by responding to them. John McCain has never done favors for anyone, not lobbyists or any special interest. That's a clear 24-year record."

The McCain team issued a statement last night decrying "gutter politics" and saying the story -- which had been reported on the Drudge Report Web site in December -- was a "a hit and run smear campaign."

Iseman, 40, who joined the Arlington-based firm of Alcalde & Fay as a secretary and rose to partner within a few years, often touted her access to the chairman of the Senate commerce committee as she worked on behalf of clients such as Cablevision, EchoStar and Tribune Broadcasting, according to several other lobbyists who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

McCain, after his unsuccessful 2000 campaign, has emerged as the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. His reputation as a crusader for Washington reform -- forged during almost 30 years in the Senate -- is based largely on his stinging critiques of the role played by lobbyists. He routinely decries earmarks, or pet projects, inserted into legislation. He has repeatedly maintained that he has "never, ever done a favor for any lobbyist or special interest group." It was this reputation that McCain's closest aides sought to protect.

"We were running a campaign about reforming Washington, and her showing up at events and saying she had close ties to McCain was harmful," one aide said.

The aide said the message to Iseman that day at Union Station in 1999 was clear: "She should get lost." The aide said Iseman stood up and left angrily.

Iseman could not be reached at her home or office last night. But she told the Times via e-mail that "I never discussed with him alleged things I had 'told people,' that had made their way 'back to' him." The Times reported that she said she never received special treatment from the senator from Arizona or his office.

Three telecom lobbyists and a former McCain aide, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Iseman spoke up regularly at meetings of telecom lobbyists in Washington, extolling her connections to McCain and his office. She would regularly volunteer at those meetings to be the point person for the telecom industry in dealing with McCain's office.

Concern about Iseman's presence around McCain at one point led to her being banned from his Senate office, according to sources close to McCain. Senior McCain aide Mark Salter, in an e-mail, denied that Iseman was ever barred from the office or was even a frequent presence there.

Iseman's bio on her lobbying firm's Web site notes, "She has extensive experience in telecommunications, representing corporations before the House and Senate Commerce Committees."

Her partners at Alcalde & Fay include L.A. "Skip" Bafalis, a former five-term Republican congressman from Florida, and Michael A. Brown, the son of former commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown and a former Democratic candidate for mayor of the District.

Its client list is heavy with municipalities and local government entities, which suggests that its major emphasis is on the controversial business of winning narrowly targeted, or "earmarked," appropriations.

In the years that McCain chaired the commerce committee, Iseman lobbied for Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, the head of what used to be Paxson Communications, now Ion Media Networks, and was involved in a successful lobbying campaign to persuade McCain and other members of Congress to send letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Paxson.

In late 1999, McCain wrote two letters to the FCC urging a vote on the sale to Paxson of a Pittsburgh television station. The sale had been highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multipronged lobbying effort among the parties to the deal.

At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.

McCain has argued that the letters merely urged a decision and did not call for action on Paxson's behalf. But when the letters became public, William E. Kennard, chairman of the FCC at the time, denounced them as "highly unusual" coming from McCain, whose committee chairmanship gave him oversight of the agency.

McCain's campaign denied that Iseman or anyone else from her firm or from Paxson "discussed with Senator McCain" the FCC's consideration of the station deal. "Neither Ms. Iseman, nor any representative of Paxson and Alcalde and Fay, personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said.

Iseman and her firm, which includes high-profile Republicans and Democrats, have also represented a number of other companies that have had issues before McCain and the commerce committee, including Univision, a Spanish-language television network. Iseman clients have given nearly $85,000 to McCain campaigns since 2000, according to records at the Federal Election Commission.

Staff writer James V. Grimaldi and research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.



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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2008, 07:28:40 am »

McCain: Reports on Lobbyist a 'Smear'


Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato) By LIBBY QUAID
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 21, 2008; 8:19 AM

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Sen. John McCain, responding to published reports about his relationship with a lobbyist, says he "will not allow a smear campaign" to distract from his presidential campaign.

The New York Times quoted anonymous aides as saying they had urged McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman to stay away from each other prior to his failed presidential campaign in 2000. In its own follow-up story, The Washington Post quoted longtime aide John Weaver, who split with McCain last year, as saying he met with lobbyist Iseman and urged her to stay away from McCain.

Weaver told the Times he arranged the meeting after "a discussion among the campaign leadership" about Iseman.

Aides said McCain, now on the verge of securing the Republican nomination, would address the allegations at a news conference Thursday morning.

The published reports said McCain and Iseman each denied having a romantic relationship. Neither story asserted that there was a romantic relationship and offered no evidence that there was, reporting only that aides worried about the appearance of McCain having close ties to a lobbyist with business before the Senate Commerce Committee on which McCain served.

The stories allege that McCain wrote letters and pushed legislation involving television station ownership that would have benefited Iseman's clients.

In a statement issued by his presidential campaign, McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said:

"It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

McCain's campaign also issued a lengthy statement insisting that his actions did not benefit any one party or favor any particular interest.

McCain defended his integrity last December, after he was questioned about reports that the Times was investigating allegations of legislative favoritism by the Arizona Republican and that his aides had been trying to dissuade the newspaper from publishing a story.

"I've never done any favors for anybody _ lobbyist or special-interest group. That's a clear, 24-year record," he told reporters.

McCain and four other senators were accused two decades ago of trying to influence banking regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, a savings and loan financier later convicted of securities fraud. The Senate Ethics Committee ultimately decided that McCain had used "poor judgment" but that his actions "were not improper" and warranted no penalty.

McCain has said that episode helped spur his drive to change campaign finance laws in an attempt to reduce the influence of money in politics.

In late 1999, McCain twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Florida-based Paxson Communications _ which had paid Iseman as its lobbyist _ urging quick consideration of a proposal to buy a television station license in Pittsburgh. At the time, Paxson's chief executive, Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, also was a major contributor to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.

McCain did not urge the FCC commissioners to approve the proposal, but he asked for speedy consideration of the deal, which was pending from two years earlier. In an unusual response, then-FCC Chairman William Kennard complained that McCain's request "comes at a sensitive time in the deliberative process" and "could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission's deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties."

McCain wrote the letters after he received more than $20,000 in contributions from Paxson executives and lobbyists. Paxson also lent McCain his company's jet at least four times during 1999 for campaign travel.

Robert Bennett, a Washington attorney representing McCain, said McCain's staff provided the Times with "approximately 12 instances where Senator McCain took positions adverse to this lobbyist's clients and her public relations firm's clients," but none of the examples were included in the paper's story.

"There is no evidence that John McCain ever breached the public trust and that is the issue and the only issue," Bennett, who once represented former President Clinton, told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday.

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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2008, 07:33:30 am »

Press conference by McCain in a half an hour!
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2008, 11:19:31 am »

McCain on claim of coziness with lobbyist: 'It's not true'
Story Highlights
NEW: NYT editor says facts "nailed down," subjects offered chance to respond

NEW: Consulting firm defends lobbyist, calls article "without foundation or merit"

McCain says he has never "done anything that would betray the public trust"

Ex-aide: I spoke to lobbyist because she claimed to have special access

Next Article in Politics »


 Read  VIDEO
     
TOLEDO, Ohio (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain on Thursday denied assertions published in The New York Times that he once had a close relationship with a female lobbyist whose clients had business before his Senate committee.




Sen. John McCain, with his wife, Cindy, at his side, said The New York Times report is "not true."

1 of 2 "I'm disappointed in The New York Times piece. It's not true," he told reporters in Toledo, Ohio, his wife, Cindy, standing by his side.

He added that he has never "done anything that would betray the public trust or make a decision" that would favor a particular group.

His wife added that her husband always puts family and country first, and is "a man of great character."

The New York Times issued a statement Thursday saying it stands by its reporting and that "the story speaks for itself."  Watch McCain deny the paper's claims »

"We publish stories when they are ready," Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a statement, explaining that the story reached his desk Tuesday. " 'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats.

"This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works."

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Time.com: Cliffs Notes on NYT story
McCain campaigning for money and votes
The newspaper reported in its online edition Wednesday that aides to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign were so worried about the relationship that they confronted McCain and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman.

Also, some McCain advisers were concerned that the relationship had become romantic, The New York Times reported.

"A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman's access to his offices," the paper reported.

The paper's assertions were part of a larger article on McCain's relationships with and stances toward lobbyists and special interests.

The Arizona senator has dominated the Republican primaries, handily pulling away from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

McCain said in a news conference Thursday that he never had discussions with any staffers about an inappropriate relationship with Iseman. He also denied having a romantic relationship with her. If staffers had such concerns, McCain told reporters, they never conveyed them to him.

The New York Times quoted what it said were two admittedly "disillusioned" former McCain associates who said they approached the senator and the lobbyist about their concerns. "Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately," the newspaper reported.

McCain further described his relationship with Iseman as a friendship and said he had "seen her on occasion, particularly at receptions and fundraisers and appearances before the committee." Asked if he was closer to Iseman than he was other lobbyists, McCain flatly said no.

McCain's former top political adviser, John Weaver, told the newspaper that he met with Iseman at Washington's Union Station during McCain's first presidential bid. He asked her to stay away from the senator, the paper reported, because McCain was running on a platform of political reform and shunning special interests.

Iseman represented telecommunications companies with business before the Senate Commerce Committee that McCain led, according to the newspaper.

"Ms. Iseman's involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort," Weaver told the Times.

In a Thursday interview with CNN, Weaver said he approached Iseman because she was telling people she had special access to and influence with McCain.

The New York Times story does not claim Weaver and Iseman discussed any romantic relationship, and Weaver told CNN they never talked about it because "there was no reason to."

"My concern wasn't about anything John had done; it was about her comments. It was about access she claimed to have had," Weaver told CNN.

Weaver left the McCain camp in summer 2007, but he said he still talks to the senator's campaign officials daily.

Iseman acknowledged the Union Station meeting but disputed Weaver's account, according to The New York Times.

"I never discussed with him alleged things I had 'told people,' that had made their way 'back to' him," Iseman told the newspaper in an e-mail. She added that she never received special treatment from McCain's office, according to the paper.

As for claims that McCain's advisers were concerned about a possible romantic relationship, Iseman told the newspaper the claims were unfounded.

Iseman works for the consulting firm Alcalde & Fay. Among its clients are several large telecommunications firms.

The firm said in a Thursday statement that The New York Times story -- based on "malicious innuendo" -- was "completely and utterly false." It added that the firm's relationship with McCain was "professional" and "appropriate."

"The story is based upon the fantasies of a disgruntled former campaign employee and is without foundation or merit," the statement said. "It is beneath the dignity of a quality newspaper to participate in such a campaign of character assassination."

Attempts to reach Iseman were unsuccessful, but the Alcalde & Fay statement said she enjoys the firm's support.

In his Thursday news conference, McCain called Weaver "a friend." Of the alleged Union Station meeting, he said, "I don't know anything about it."

"Since it was in The New York Times, I don't take it at face value," he said.

Hours after the newspaper posted its story, McCain's advisers challenged the accuracy of the Times' article and questioned the newspaper's motivation.

Campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement that the newspaper had engaged in a "smear campaign" and that nothing in the story suggests "that John McCain ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

One of McCain's senior advisers, Charlie Black, told CNN that the campaign first learned in October the paper was working on a story about McCain's relationship with Iseman.  Watch Black address the allegations »

He said that information and documents provided to the paper disputes suggestions McCain tried to use his influence to help Iseman.


Black further said The New York Times was a liberal newspaper that was printing "rumors and gossip" in what he described as a partisan attack on the conservative McCain.

"He doesn't do favors for anyone," Black said of McCain. E-mail to a friend

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/21/mccain/index.html
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Monique Faulkner
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2008, 11:20:58 am »

Former McCain aide speaks out on Times report

Posted: 10:30 AM ET
(CNN) — Former McCain political adviser John Weaver confirms to CNN that he did approach lobbyist Vicki Iseman about eight years ago, during McCain’s first presidential run, and told her she was threatening to undermine the heart of McCain’s campaign – that he is a reformer.

Weaver says he arranged the meeting with Iseman — first reported by the New York Times — out of concern that she was “telling people around town” she was getting access to, and had influence with, McCain that Weaver says she did not have.

But Weaver insists he never talked to or asked Iseman about any romantic relationship with McCain because “there was no reason to.”

“My concern wasn’t about anything John had done, it was about her comments it was about access she claimed to have had,” Weaver told CNN. “I had no reason to question her about anything that is implied in the New York Times story.”

Weaver was McCain’s campaign manager until this past summer, when he left as part of a staff shakeup. But Weaver tells CNN he still talks to campaign officials on a daily basis and he still “loves John McCain.”

“I don’t have an axe to grind,” Weaver said.

Weaver also says he gave the New York Times only one response, via e-mail back in December, to a series of questions they had asked him. He adds that he told the campaign he had communicated with the Times.

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Volitzer
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2008, 03:26:40 pm »

At least she's hot not like Monica.  Tongue Tongue Tongue
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Justin Garrow
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2008, 02:17:01 am »

Well, at least it wasn't with a guy this time.   Smiley
That's progress.   Wink
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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2008, 07:30:39 am »

Well, at least it wasn't with a guy this time.   Smiley
That's progress.   Wink

No Bohemian Grove for him.

 Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2008, 10:41:35 am »

Ex-McCain aide: New York Times report 'highly implausible'

Story Highlights
NEW: Ex-aide says he would have known if there was an improper relationship

NEW: Disagreement between editors, reporters held up article, magazine says

New York Times editor: Facts "nailed down," subjects offered chance to respond


John McCain says he has never "done anything that would betray the public trust"

Next Article in Politics »


 Read  VIDEO
     
(CNN) -- A New York Times report that Sen. John McCain once had a close relationship with a female lobbyist was "highly implausible," a former McCain aide told CNN.




Sen. John McCain, with his wife, Cindy, at his side, said The New York Times report is "not true."

1 of 2 The newspaper first reported online Wednesday that aides to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign were so worried about a relationship between McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman that they confronted the two of them.

Some McCain advisers also were concerned that the relationship had become romantic, the Times reported.

Iseman represented telecommunications companies with business before the Senate Commerce Committee, which McCain then chaired.

Dan Schnur, McCain's communication director during his 2000 presidential bid, told CNN on Thursday that he was involved in most high-level situations and that such a problem almost certainly would have "landed on my desk."

Schnur said that he was unaware of any "improper" relationship between the senator and Iseman and that he had never heard of any meeting with staffers and McCain about such a concern.

Schnur, a professor of political science at the University of California-Berkeley, has no connection to the McCain camp now.

Schnur said he spoke on the record with a Times reporter in December and said he knew of no problems surrounding Iseman. He said he was surprised the paper gave no hint of his views.

Schnur acknowledged that he could not be 100 percent sure about the story, but he said he believes his close contact and access would have brought such a situation to his attention.

McCain said Thursday that he has never "done anything that would betray the public trust or make a decision" that would favor a particular group.

"I'm disappointed in The New York Times piece. It's not true," he said at a Toledo, Ohio, news conference, with his wife, Cindy, by his side.  Watch McCain respond to the paper's allegations »

McCain said he never had discussions with any staffers about an inappropriate relationship with Iseman. He also denied having a romantic relationship with her. If staffers had such concerns, McCain told reporters, they never conveyed them to him.

In a statement Thursday, The New York Times said it stands by its reporting and that "the story speaks for itself."

"We publish stories when they are ready," Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a statement, explaining the article reached his desk Tuesday. " 'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats.

"This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works."

The Times article explored McCain's relationships with and stances toward lobbyists and special interests.

Gabriel Sherman of The New Republic magazine said Thursday that a disagreement between Keller and the reporters who wrote the article had held up its publication.

The magazine started asking about the Times article after a report appeared on the Drudge Report Web site earlier this month, Sherman said.

The New Republic on Thursday published an article on its Web site about the Times investigation after the newspaper's report appeared.

"We got a sense from Mr. Keller and the paper that they did not want this article, this back story, told about why they were holding the McCain investigation," Sherman said.

"The reporters felt they they had nailed the story. Bill Keller and the editors felt they needed more documentary proof in the absence of a photograph or hotel receipt that proved this alleged affair," Sherman said.

"The reporters felt they nailed it. The editors felt they needed more, and, eventually, the reporters' view won out."

McCain's former top political adviser, John Weaver, told the newspaper that he met with Iseman at Washington's Union Station during the 2000 presidential bid. He asked her to stay away from the senator, the paper reported, because McCain was running on a platform of political reform and shunning special interests.

"Ms. Iseman's involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort," Weaver told the Times.

In an interview Thursday with CNN, Weaver said he approached Iseman because she was telling people she had special access to and influence with McCain.

The Times article didn't say Weaver and Iseman discussed any romantic relationship, and Weaver told CNN they never talked about it because "there was no reason to."

"My concern wasn't about anything John had done; it was about her comments. It was about access she claimed to have had," Weaver said.

Weaver left the McCain camp last summer but said he still talks daily to the senator's campaign officials.

Iseman acknowledged the Union Station meeting but disputed Weaver's account, according to the Times.

"I never discussed with him alleged things I had 'told people,' that had made their way 'back to' him," Iseman told the newspaper in an e-mail. She added that she never received special treatment from McCain's office, according to the paper.

CNN has not been able to reach Iseman for comment.

One of McCain's senior advisers, Charlie Black, said that information and documents provided to the paper disputes suggestions McCain tried to use his influence to help Iseman.  Watch Black address the allegations »


Black accused the Times of being a liberal newspaper that was printing "rumors and gossip," and he called the article a partisan attack on the conservative McCain.

The newspaper endorsed McCain as the GOP nominee in the 2008 presidential race. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dana Bash and Scott Bronstein contributed to this report.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/22/mccain.lobbyist/index.html
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« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2008, 10:02:42 pm »

A Hole in McCain’s Defense?
An apparent contradiction in his response to lobbyist story.

By Michael Isikoff | Newsweek Web Exclusive

Feb 22, 2008 | Updated: 11:33  a.m. ET Feb 22, 2008

 
A sworn deposition that Sen. John McCain gave in a lawsuit more than five years ago appears to contradict one part of a sweeping denial that his campaign issued this week to rebut a New York Times story about his ties to a Washington lobbyist.

On Wednesday night the Times published a story suggesting that McCain might have done legislative favors for the clients of the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, who worked for the firm of Alcalde & Fay. One example it cited were two letters McCain wrote in late 1999 demanding that the Federal Communications Commission act on a long-stalled bid by one of Iseman's clients, Florida-based Paxson Communications, to purchase a Pittsburgh television station.

Just hours after the Times's story was posted, the McCain campaign issued a point-by-point response that depicted the letters as routine correspondence handled by his staff—and insisted that McCain had never even spoken with anybody from Paxson or Alcalde & Fay about the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde & Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC," the campaign said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

But that flat claim seems to be contradicted by an impeccable source: McCain himself. "I was contacted by Mr. [Lowell] Paxson on this issue," McCain said in the Sept. 25, 2002, deposition obtained by NEWSWEEK. "He wanted their approval very bad for purposes of his business. I believe that Mr. Paxson had a legitimate complaint."

While McCain said "I don't recall" if he ever directly spoke to the firm's lobbyist about the issue—an apparent reference to Iseman, though she is not named—"I'm sure I spoke to [Paxson]." McCain agreed that his letters on behalf of Paxson, a campaign contributor, could "possibly be an appearance of corruption"—even though McCain denied doing anything improper.

McCain's subsequent letters to the FCC—coming around the same time that Paxson's firm was flying the senator to campaign events aboard its corporate jet and contributing $20,000 to his campaign—first surfaced as an issue during his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid. William Kennard, the FCC chair at the time, described the sharply worded letters from McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, as "highly unusual."

The issue erupted again this week when the New York Times reported that McCain's top campaign strategist at the time, John Weaver, was so concerned about what Iseman (who was representing Paxson) was saying about her access to McCain that he personally confronted her at a Washington restaurant and told her to stay away from the senator.

The McCain campaign has denounced the Times story as a "smear campaign" and harshly criticized the paper for publishing a report saying that anonymous aides worried there might have been an improper relationship between Iseman and McCain. McCain, who called the charges "not true," also told reporters Thursday in a news conference that he was unaware of any confrontation Weaver might have had with Iseman.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/114505

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