Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Plum Job

Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, is a partner in a lobbying firm that was being paid $15,000 a month up until August by Freddie Mac.

The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.

They said they did not recall Mr. Davis’s doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis & Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of Mr. Davis’s close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.

Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis & Manafortfor the presidential campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis & Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac’s behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.

The McCain campaign made a huge deal out of the fact that Barack Obama had a five-minute phone call with Franklin Raines, the former head of Fannie Mae. So I guess this sort of takes the wind out of that sail.

The fact that Freddie Mac paid Davis & Manafort but got nothing out of it may sound like it’s a good thing for McCain, but as Hilzoy notes,

Paying someone to do nothing, because of his “close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House”, is about as clear an example of what McCain called “the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling” as you could ask for.

McCain is absolutely right to condemn it. He was just wrong about who was “square in the middle of it.” It wasn’t Barack Obama. It was his own campaign manager.

By the way, if someone wants to pay me $15,000 a month to do nothing, drop me an e-mail.