There's an interesting and little talked about article this weekend from the National Journal which sets out the lucrative relationships some of John McCain's campaign advisers, in their alter-egos as super-lobbyists, have with some very questionable oligarchs in Russia and elsewhere - leading to some serious questions about McCain's judgement and the company he keeps.
There's Christian Ferry, McCain's deputy campaign manager, who also works for the lobbying firm of McCain's campaign manager and longtime GOP apparatchik Rick Davis.
In Montenegro, Davis Manafort helped push a referendum on independence from Serbia that narrowly passed by popular vote in May 2006. In Ukraine, Ferry was part of a Davis Manafort team that advised Victor Yanukovich, the country's then-prime minister, whose pro-Russian party made gains in the 2006 parliamentary elections. (In 2004, Yanukovich lost to the U.S.-backed candidate, Victor Yushchenko, in a hotly contested presidential race.)
Sources say that Davis Manafort received multimillion-dollar fees from each country. "Ferry was on the ground in both countries and talked about it a great deal," said one source with knowledge of the McCain campaign and of the firm's electoral work in Ukraine. The source added that Ferry acted as "Rick's implementer."
These overseas efforts underscore not only how closely Ferry's career has been linked to Davis but also the extent to which the upper ranks of the McCain campaign include lobbyists and consultants who worked for foreign clients.
And then there's Randy Scheunemann, who has lobbied for Georgia (as we know), Latvia, Macedonia and Taiwan.
And Charles Black, who has worked for the "corruption-plagued nation of Equatorial Guinea and a Moscow think tank run by Leonid Reiman". The latter used to be Vladimir "K.G.B. Eyes" Putin's telecoms minister and has been linked to allegations of money laundering by German authorities. Black, of course, was also one of the folks who arranged Rev. Sun Myung Moon's coronation as "King of America".
And Davis himself, who involved McCain with Raffaello Follieri, "who in September pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to money laundering and defrauding investors of more than $2 million" in what was a part of what has become known as the Vati-Con Scandal. Davis also got McCain sit-down meetings with Oleg Deripaska, whose fortune has been pegged at $28 billion and who was a close ally of that same Vladimir Putin's.
For someone who claims to be a maverick, McCain has an awful lot of people around him who have done the bidding of foreign governments or other foreign interests," says Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity.
But that doesn't really get to the heart of the problem.
Earlier in the week, McCain's association with the US Council for World Freedom , home to Iran-Contra conspirators, anti-semites and organisers of Latin American death squads, and it's parent body - the World Anti-Communist League. The parent group began as the Asian People's AntiCommunist League formed by followers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church. One was a war criminal, another a plain criminal. Moon still he boasts about it on his own website - along with how he uses the Washinton Times and UPI Wire Service to push those group's agendas. (And hey, we're back to Moon again. Small world.)
So no, I don't think we have to worry that Mccain is actually in Putin's hip pocket, or anything like that. The USCWF are as wild-eyed a bunch of "bodily fluid" purists as ever hated a commie and McCain's entirely in the tank for them (which explains his hatred of Putin and all things Russian). But it does suggest that he's been played for a patsy by lobbyists using his name and status to make a buck for themselves, by trotting him out like a tame poodle for luncheons and meetings. And not only has he been too naive to notice, he's given those lobbyists key positions in his campaign.
Now, is that the kind of judgment you can trust?