Tuesday, March 21, 2006

McCain Continues His Downward Descent

So much for the Straight Talk Express or the "honest Republican maverick" mantle. John McCain hired Terry Nelson, who served as national political director for for Preznit Bush's reelection campaign in 2004, to be a "senior adviser" to McCain's Straight Talk America political action committee.

The only problem is, as Paul Kiel at TPM noted yesterday, Terry Nelson is named in the Tom Delay indictment to launder money between Washington and Texas and use the funds for Republican campaigns. As deputy chief of staff of the Republican National Committee at the time, Nelson helped carry out the Washington part of Delay's money laundering/campaign finance scheme.

In addition, Kiel finds that Nelson was also the superior to James Tobin, the New England director of the RNC who was convicted last year in a Republican scheme to jam Democratic get out the vote phone lines in 2002. Nelson was placed on the government's witness list to testify at the trial, though he was never called as a witness, which makes Kiel think the government thought he knew something specific about the case. Either way, though, his role in the scheme is still sleazy.

Which brings us back to McCain. Is hiring a political operative named in the Tom Delay indictment McCain's idea of bringing more "straight talk" into Washington politics? Is hiring a potential witness on the government's trial list in a Republican phone jamming scandal case McCain's idea of helping to return honest governance to Washington?

Because if it is, John McCain better get a clue. You can only run as the honest guy and drape the reform mantle all over your shoulders if you are the honest guy who wants to bring reform to Washington.

But if you're hiring sleazy political operatives with ties to Tom Delay and James Tobin, you might just have to abdicate your "honest reformer" title and run as a good old "Bush/Cheney/Rove/Halliburton" Republican.

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