John McCain’s Skeletons
On Tuesday, June 17, the Chicago Tribune published a major article exposing Sen. John McCain’s connection with the Reform Institute (RI), a Washington think tank founded in 2001 ostensibly to promote transparency and accountability in government. But behind the scenes, the paper says, the Institute’s practices have been at odds with its reformist message and “with McCain’s political identity as an enemy of special interests.” This discrepancy may be a revelation to the Tribune subscribers, but not to the readers of Chronicles.
The Tribune article focuses on five red flags:
- Donations to the RI of $200,000 in 2003-2004 from a cable company with business before the McCain-led Senate Commerce Committee.
- The role of Rick Davis, a veteran Washington lobbyist who was president of the Institute 2003-2005 and who is now McCain’s campaign manager.
- The fact that “three members of the institute’s inaugural four-person board worked on McCain’s 2000 campaign.”
- The manner in which McCain has benefited from a stream of special-interest gifts to the RI—almost 5 million dollars through 2006—similar to the “soft money” he has scorned.
- The Institute’s use of the same Alexandria, Va., office building as McCain’s PAC, his Senate campaign committee and Davis’ lobbying business.
Our subscribers have probably seen the July issue of Chronicles by now. It contains an article on McCain I wrote last month (“The Dream Ticket”), which contains all the significant information presented in the Tribune feature. It also reveals some interesting additional details—such as the close connection between McCain and George Soros, and the role of a Mexican open-immigration activist on McCain’s staff—which are inexplicably missing from the Tribune article, and which are essential to understanding John McCain:
The point of contact [between McCain and Soros] was campaign-finance reform, and the channel of support was the Reform Institute, founded in 2001 and headed by the Arizona senator until 2005, when he resigned in order to prepare for another presidential bid. The RI was initially funded by Soros’s Open Society Foundation and by Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s Tides Foundation. They were excited by the McCain-Feingold bill because it had the capacity to limit private groups’ ability to challenge the institutionalized leftist bias of the mainstream electronic media with “issue ads”—such as those Swift Boat ads that inflicted so much damage on John Kerry in his subsequent presidential bid. […]
When the Reform Institute opened shop under McCain’s chairmanship in July 2001, Mrs. Huffington—a close associate and confidante of Soros—was on its advisory committee. The Institute was a pseudo-think tank designed to keep McCain’s staff assembled and gainfully employed in anticipation of another presidential bid. Its offices were in the same building in Alexandria as his election committee, his PAC, and the lobbying firm of his 2000 campaign manager, Rick Davis. The Institute hired three other key campaign staffers: legal counsel Trevor Potter as legal counsel, finance director Carla Eudy as finance director, and press secretary Crystal Benton as—communications director.
The Constitutions and Legal Policy Program of Soros’s Open Society Institute donated “above $50,000” to the RI while McCain was at its helm. In addition, the OSI distributed $300,000 in grants to different groups that defended McCain-Feingold from threatened legal challenges during its passage through Congress in 2002.
Last April, McCain tried to distance himself from his benefactor, with his old/new campaign manager Davis describing Soros as a “liberal mega-donor” who wants to “buy this election.” The performance was as convincing as George H.W. Bush decrying the influence of “those Washington insiders.” What matters is that McCain has not given back any money to Soros. He has not returned the $200,000 that the Reform Institute received in donations from Cablevision in 2002 and 2003 either, when McCain was on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It was undoubtedly coincidental that, in a letter to the FCC written at that time, McCain supported Cablevision’s proposal for the introduction of a more profitable cable pricing scheme.
The Reform Institute has promoted another important pillar of Soros’s agenda: open and unlimited Third World immigration. […] This is not to say that McCain’s support of illegal immigration correlates exclusively with the money he is getting from Soros. By all accounts he is an “honest” amnesty enthusiast. His man in charge of immigration reform at the RI was, until two years ago, one Juan Fernandez, who holds dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship and is a former member of Vicente Fox’s cabinet in charge of Mexicans abroad. This man believes that anyone of Mexican ancestry, even after going through the motions of becoming an American citizen (as he has done), remains a Mexican forever and should “think Mexican first.” Such a one should never contemplate—let alone accept—assimilation as an option. Dr. Fernandez now serves as John McCain’s Hispanic Outreach Director and is seen as a potential Cabinet-level appointee in a McCain administration.
It is entirely possible, probable even, that the publication of the Chicago Tribune feature on John McCain and the Reform Institute a week after the July issue of Chronicles was mailed to our subscribers is coincidental. It does not seem incidental, however, that the paper chose to ignore significant information about McCain’s links to Soros, the OSI, or Huffington—information that was most unlikely to remain unavailable to the story’s authors and their editors in the course of its writing. It is far more likely that the omission was deliberate: it reflected the unwillingness of this once-great newspaper to publicize the connections of these actual or potential supporters of Sen. Obama with his GOP opponent. There is precious little to choose between the two, of course, but the Chicago Tribune editorial board thinks otherwise.
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