Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lobbying on Foreign Policy

While John McCain is busy going all nutso over the situation in Georgia, we're now getting a clearer picture as to why. Turns out the campaign of "Mr. Maverick" is crawling with lobbyists who've worked on behalf of the government of Georgia. One of McCain's top foreign policy advisers, Randy Scheunemann (who also happens to own the lobbying firm Orion Strategies), even signed a $200,000 contract provide strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington and aranged conference calls between the President of Georgia and McCain.

As a private lobbyist trying to influence lawmakers and Bush administration staffers, Scheunemann at times relied on his access to McCain in his work for foreign clients on Capitol Hill. He and his partner reported 71 phone conversations and meetings with McCain and his top advisers since 2004 on behalf of foreign clients, including Georgia, according to forms they filed with the Justice Department.

The contacts often focused on Georgia's aspirations to join NATO and on legislative proposals, including a measure co-sponsored by McCain that supported Georgia's position on South Ossetia, one of the Georgian regions taken over by Russia this weekend.

Another measure lobbied by Orion and co-sponsored by McCain, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2006, would have authorized a $10 million grant for Georgia.
Of course, had McCain been successful in his push to get Georgia into NATO we would be in a SHOOTING WAR with Russia over this whole mess right now. Aww, shucks!Also, question: does anyone else have a major problem with the idea that foreign governments can circumvent the State Department and directly lobby members of Congress? Anyone?

In an additional article on this subject for the Wall Street Journal we found this gem:
In August 2006, Sen. McCain returned to Georgia on another congressional delegation, visiting Mr. Saakashvili at a presidential villa on the Black Sea. While Mr. Scheunemann watched from a dock, Sen. McCain and the Georgian leader rode jet skis together, Mr. Scheunemann said.
"rode jet skis together" wtf?