The man picked by the John McCain campaign to run the Republican National Convention resigned on Saturday after a report that his lobbying firm used to represent the military regime in Myanmar.
Doug Goodyear resigned as convention coordinator and issued a two sentence statement: “Today I offered the convention my resignation so as not to become a distraction in this campaign. I continue to strongly support John McCain for president and wish him the best of luck in this campaign.”
Goodyear is chief executive of DCI Group, a lobbying firm that Newsweek reported in a story posted online was paid US$348,000 in 2002 to represent Myanmar’s junta.
“We respect Mr Goodyear’s decision and look forward to the convention in September,” said Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the McCain campaign.
Cyclone Nargis left more than 60,000 people dead or missing and the UN estimates that at least 1.5 million people have been severely affected.
Human-rights organizations and dissident groups have bitterly accused the junta of neglecting disaster victims and blocking foreign donations of relief supplies.
Newsweek said Justice Department lobbying records showed that DCI had pushed to “begin a dialogue of political reconciliation” with the regime and led a public-relations campaign to improve the junta’s image.
The magazine said that the firm had drafted news releases praising Myanmar’s efforts to curb the drug trade and denouncing claims by Washington that the regime engaged in rape and other abuses.
“It was our only foreign representation, it was for a short tenure and it was six years ago,” Newsweek quoted Goodyear as saying.
The magazine said Goodyear maintained that the junta’s record in the cyclone crisis is “reprehensible.”
The Newsweek article also reported that some of Goodyear’s allies worry that the choice of Goodyear could fuel perceptions that McCain is surrounded by lobbyists.
DCI Group earned US$3 million last year lobbying for ExxonMobil, General Motors and other clients, the report said.
The convention runs from Sept. 1 through Sept. 4 in St Paul.