An Artful Dodge

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TPMm Reader AC writes in with a little more context to McCain’s December, 1999 letter to the FCC.

As I mentioned in my post, the McCain campaign has responded at length to the New York Times story, and the statement strives to beat back any impression that McCain had given any undue consideration to clients from Vicki Iseman’s firm, Alcalde and Fay — in this case, Paxson Communications, which was seeking the FCC’s approval of a deal.

The statement goes out of its way to claim that no one from Alcalde and Fay had ever “personally asked” McCain to send the letter. The statement also says that while McCain’s staff had met with “representatives” from that firm, the staff had also met with activists who opposed the deal. Both camps wanted the issue resolved, and “both parties asked the staff to contact the FCC regarding the proceeding,” according to the statement.

There are a couple things wrong with that. For one, the lawyer who represented opponents of the deal told The Boston Globe back in 2000 that McCain’s letter was ” improper, unethical, violated FCC rules barring such contacts on pending FCC matters, and appeared designed to assist a major contributor.” It certainly doesn’t sound like she or her clients were consulted.

And when The Washington Post posted a story the next day, the paper had a clear take as to who had wanted the letter sent:

As for the Paxson letter, McCain’s aides confirmed that he had written the missive at the request of Alcalde & Fay, the Washington lobbying firm retained by Paxson.