It’s at least the fifth lobbying-related departure from the campaign in a week.
The McCain campaign, already facing the prospect of being badly outgunned in the general election, now also must cope with the disruption of the lobbying shakeout.
The McCain campaign’s stringent approach to the issue is provoking a bit of grumbling from some of its Washington allies, who point out that a lobbyist’s function is enshrined in the Constitution.
“No one in real America cares,” said one key Republican. “But McCain cares.”
The senator, whose appeal to independent voters rests in part on his reformist image, recognizes that he will be held to a high standard in the coming campaign and wants to clean house before the general election formally kicks off, sources say.
The McCain campaign last week announced a restrictive “McCain Campaign Conflict Policy” that included a questionnaire to be returned to the campaign’s legal department as part of a re-vetting of all staff.
“No person working for the Campaign may be a registered lobbyist or foreign agent, or receive compensation for any such activity,” the policy says.
Officials say Loeffler’s resignation shows that McCain and his campaign is going to be serious about enforcing the policy, which was implemented following revelations about the lobbying ties of several campaign officials.
“Everyone will have to become compliant with the policy or they'll have to make a similar choice,” a campaign official said on condition of anonymity. “But we're not going to discuss every person affected.”
The officials who have left include Doug Goodyear, who was McCain’s top liaison to the Republican National Convention; Doug Davenport, regional campaign manager for mid-Atlantic states; Eric Burgeson, an energy policy adviser; and Craig Shirley, a prominent Republican consultant who was a member of McCain’s Virginia Leadership Team.
Loeffler was part of the rescue mission for the campaign last year after its spending badly outstripped its fundraising, leading to a contraction of the campaign that left McCain running a bare-bones operation in the lead-up to his breakout New Hampshire primary victory.
Loeffler’s departure followed a report this weekend by Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff that Loeffler’s “lobbying firm has collected nearly $15 million from Saudi Arabia since 2002 and millions more from other foreign and corporate interests, including a French aerospace firm seeking Pentagon contracts.”
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Isikoff wrote: “Loeffler last month told a reporter ‘at no time have I discussed my clients with John McCain.’ But lobbying disclosure records reviewed by NEWSWEEK show that on May 17, 2006, Loeffler listed meeting McCain along with the Saudi ambassador to ‘discuss US-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia relations.’ ”
A Republican source who has talked to Loeffler played down the revelation, saying: “I doubt he meant he had never lobbied McCain in his life. And if it were only the one time pre-campaign, that's pretty remarkable considering they've been friends for many years.”
Campaign Manager Rick Davis told his staff in a memo dated Thursday announcing the policy: “Those staff members who have been registered lobbyists or foreign agents must ensure that their registrations have been formally terminated by asking their former employers to terminate their status and by filing the necessary paperwork with the appropriate authorities. …
“Thos staff members who have been registered lobbyists or foreign agents must certify with their Division Directors that they have given the Campaign a complete and accurate list of former lobbying employers and clients and that they have filed the necessary paperwork to terminate their status.”