"After John McCain nailed down the Republican nomination in March, his campaign began wrestling with a sensitive personnel issue: who would manage this summer's GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.? The campaign recently tapped Doug Goodyear for the job, a veteran operative and Arizonan who was chosen for his "management experience and expertise," according to McCain press secretary Jill Hazelbaker. But some allies worry that Goodyear's selection could fuel perceptions that McCain—who has portrayed himself as a crusader against special interests—is surrounded by lobbyists. Goodyear is CEO of DCI Group, a consulting firm that earned $3 million last year lobbying for ExxonMobil, General Motors and other clients.
Potentially more problematic: the firm was paid $348,000 in 2002 to represent Burma's military junta, which had been strongly condemned by the State Department for its human-rights record and remains in power today. Justice Department lobbying records show DCI pushed to "begin a dialogue of political reconciliation" with the regime. It also led a PR campaign to burnish the junta's image, drafting releases praising Burma's efforts to curb the drug trade and denouncing "falsehoods" by the Bush administration that the regime engaged in rape and other abuses."
You have to admire not just the McCain campaign's tin ear, but their impeccable sense of timing:
"Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise. (...) With voters going to the polls, state-run television continuously ran images of top generals including junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, handing out boxes of aid at elaborate ceremonies.
''We have already seen regional commanders putting their names on the side of aid shipments from Asia, saying this was a gift from them and then distributing it in their region,'' said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, which campaigns for human rights and democracy in the country.
''It is not going to areas where it is most in need,'' he said in London."
What's particularly amusing is the McCain campaign's rationale for choosing Goodyear:
"Ironically, Goodyear was chosen for the post after the McCain campaign nixed another candidate, Paul Manafort, who runs a lobbying firm with McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis. The prospect of choosing Manafort created anxiety in the campaign because of his long history of representing controversial foreign clients, including Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. More recently, he served as chief political consultant to Viktor Yanukovich, the former Ukrainian prime minister who has been widely criticized for alleged corruption and for his close ties to Russia's Vladimir Putin—a potential embarrassment for McCain, who in 2007 called Putin a "totalitarian dictator." "The Ukrainian stuff was viewed as too much," says one McCain strategist, who asked not to be identified discussing the matter."
So Ukraine is too much, but Burma is OK?
UPDATE: Well, that was quick: Goodyear has resigned. (H/t Robin Z and Nell in comments.)
Note to McCain: consider firing the people who do your vetting for you as well.
Further Update: Marc Ambinder reports that the person who actually managed the Burma account for DCI is one of the McCain campaign's regional managers:
"What becomes now of Doug Davenport, the DCI lobbying czar who is a campaign regional manager? A campaign spokesperson referred comment to Davenport, who did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. As the head DCI lobbyist, Mr. Davenport was directly in charge of the Myanmar account.
Goodyear and Davenport were brought to the campaign by manager Rick Davis. This episode will increase criticism by some McCain allies that Davis has paid insufficient attention to McCain's brand by appointing so many lobbyists to key campaign positions."
Rick Davis is also on the rather lengthy list of lobbyists in senior positions in McCains campaign.
Yet Another Update:
From Marc Ambinder:
"Doug Davenport, the regional campaign manager for the mid-Atlantic states, founded the DCI Group's lobbying practice and oversaw the contract with Myanmar in 2002.
"Doug has tendered his resignation and we have accepted it," Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's communications director, wrote in a e-mail."