John McCain’s national finance co-chairman has stepped down, the latest casualty of a presidential campaign eager to cauterize damage caused by its ties to lobbyists.
Thomas Loeffler resigned in the wake of a new McCain policy on conflicts of interest that required campaign volunteers to disclose their lobbying connections.
“Mr. Loeffler has resigned from his position with the campaign,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said on Sunday.
Loeffler, who runs the lobbying shop The Loeffler Group, is the highest profile departure from McCain’s inner circle since a shake-up last summer cost McCain his campaign manager and chief strategist.
Among Loeffler’s clients is EADS, the parent company of plane manufacturer Airbus. Northrop Grumman and EADS won a lucrative contract to provide air refueling tankers for the Air Force. McCain helped scuttle an earlier contract in 2004 that would have gone to Boeing.
Loeffler’s firm also has lobbied for other foreign interests and foreign governments. Newsweek reported over the weekend that Loeffler’s firm was paid US$15 million by Saudi Arabia.
The magazine also said Loeffler listed meeting McCain along with the Saudi ambassador even though Loeffler said last month that he had not discussed his clients with McCain.
McCain’s new policy prohibits any staffer on the campaign from being a registered lobbyist or foreign agent. Part-time volunteers for the campaigns, such as Loeffler, have to disclose whether they are registered lobbyists or lobbying on behalf of foreign entities.
Under the policy such volunteer advisers cannot lobby McCain or his legislative staffs during the period they serve on the campaign.
Barack Obama was asked about the latest resignation on Sunday.
“It appears that John McCain is very much a creature of Washington,” he said. “One of the things we’ve said is if we’re going to change policies ... that we were going to have to change how Washington works. We can’t have special interests dictating what’s happening there. It does appear that over the last several weeks John McCain keeps on having problems with his top advisers being lobbyists in some cases for foreign governments or other big interests that are doing business in Washington. That, I don’t think, represents the kind of change the American people are looking for.”
Responding to Obama, Bounds said: “Just a few years ago when Barack Obama was beginning his career in politics he was launching it at the home of William Ayers, an unrepentant domestic terrorist who his chief strategist said Senator Obama was certainly friendly with. If Barack Obama is going to make associations the issue, we look forward to the debate about Senator Obama’s associations and what they say about his judgment and readiness to be commander in chief.”
McCain advisers Doug Goodyear, who was to run the Republican convention in St Paul, Minnesota, and Doug Davenport, a regional campaign director for the Mid-Atlantic states, also resigned this month.