There have been a number of signs lately that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), eyeing 2008, is cozying up to the Republican establishment, but this just might be the surest one yet.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that McCain had hired Terry Nelson to be a senior advisor to his political committee, the Straight Talk America PAC. Who is Terry Nelson? George W. Bush’s national political director in 2004, for one. It’s just the latest example of McCain’s strategy of taking what he can of Bush’s money infrastructure – as the Post reports, he’s been busily recruiting Pioneers, Rangers and Super Rangers from ’04.
But there’s one crucial, telling detail about Terry Nelson that the Post leaves out. And that’s his role in the money laundering scheme for which Tom DeLay is being prosecuted down in Texas.
Nelson was the deputy chief of staff of the Republican National Committee in 2002 when the alleged crime occurred. His role was crucial, although he hasn’t been charged. He’s named right there in the indictment.
DeLay and his money men, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, are accused of trying to get around a Texas law against using corporate money to fund candidates. To do that, they wrote a check to the RNC and had the RNC bounce the money back to the Texas candidates they wanted to fund. According to the indictment, the scheme was laid out to Terry Nelson, and he made sure the RNC carried it out.
So what gives? Sen. McCain, Mr. Campaign Finance Reform, has just hired a man who (allegedly) played a key role in breaking a campaign finance law to advise him on how to spend his PAC’s money. Anything to win in ’08?