Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) today, Republican presidential nominee John McCain called for a global campaign of divestment from Iran. He might want to start with his own campaign manager, Rick Davis, whose work on behalf of Ukrainian mogul Rinat Akhmetov included business dealings with Tehran.
McCain used his wide-ranging address to target Iran for the kind of worldwide sanctions regime applied to apartheid-era South Africa. (Unsurprisingly, the self-proclaimed "foot soldier in the Reagan revolution" neglected to mention his hero's opposition to South African divestment.) Monday morning, McCain declared:
"We should privatize the sanctions against Iran by launching a worldwide divestment campaign. As more people, businesses, pension funds, and financial institutions across the world divest from companies doing business with Iran, the radical elite who run that country will become even more unpopular than they are already."
Sadly for McCain, that sweep would net his long-time adviser and campaign manager Rick Davis. As Talking Points Memo detailed just this past Friday, Davis' extensive lobbying operation prominently features clients doing deals with the Iranian regime. At the same Davis was heading up John McCain's so-called Reform Institute, his firm was representing the Ukrainian oligarch Akmetov and his businesses in Tehran:
Davis Manafort was helping Akhmetov's conglomerate, System Capital Management Holdings, to develop a "corporate communications strategy" between the beginging of 2005 through the end of summer 2005, the company said. The company's subsidiary, Metinvest, a steel company, has one of its 11 offices in Tehran. And another subsidiary, Khartsyzsk Pipe Plant, sells large pipes to Iran.
As of Friday, the McCain camp was pleading ignorance. According to TPM, "a McCain aide told us Davis did not work on that account while he was heading up the firm. And he was unaware of the company's ties to Iran."
As it turns out, John McCain is following Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney as just the latest hard-line Republican to run afoul of his own plans for Iranian disinvestment. But only John McCain is still in the running to be President of the United States. The only question now is whether he'll obey his own call for action against organizations doing business with Iran and divest his own campaign manager.
UPDATE: Huffington Post reports that McCain senior adviser and GOP uber-lobbyist Charlie Black's firm represented CNOOC, the Chinese national oil conglomerate, which also happens to have business dealings with Iran. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign notes that John McCain failed to support Iran sanctions legislation sponsored by Obama in 2007, a bill currently rumored to be "on hold" by Alabama Republican, Richard Shelby.
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