Scandalous… The N.Y. Times has a hit piece on John McCain that is a doozy. It’s all the buzz and of course everyone is talking about it in the blogosphere and the media.
The problem for McCain is the piece hits him right smack in his ethics zone, as it implicates that McCain was perhaps a bit too cozy with a female lobbyist. Whether or not is will blow his campaign off course remains to be seen.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
Three telecom lobbyists and a former McCain aide, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Iseman spoke up regularly at meetings of telecom lobbyists in Washington, extolling her connections to McCain and his office. She would regularly volunteer at those meetings to be the point person for the telecom industry in dealing with McCain’s office.
Concern about Iseman’s presence around McCain at one point led to her being banned from his Senate office, according to sources close to McCain. Senior McCain aide Mark Salter, in an e-mail, denied that Iseman was ever barred from the office or was even a frequent presence there.
Iseman’s bio on her lobbying firm’s Web site notes, “She has extensive experience in telecommunications, representing corporations before the House and Senate Commerce Committees.”
Radar has the scoop on the other media outlets scrambling to make headlines with the story as well, and The New Republic says they’ll have more on the scandalous (or not so scandalous) McCain story tomorrow.