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McCain aide lobbied for republic of Georgia

by Pete Yost
San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle

WASHINGTON — John McCain’s chief for­eign-pol­i­cy advis­er and his busi­ness part­ner lob­bied the sen­a­tor or his staff on 49 occa­sions in a 3 1/2‑year span while being paid hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars by the gov­ern­ment of the for­mer Sovi­et repub­lic of Geor­gia.

The pay­ments raise eth­i­cal ques­tions about the inter­sec­tion of Randy Sche­une­man­n’s per­son­al finan­cial inter­ests and his advice to the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who is seiz­ing on Russ­ian aggres­sion in Geor­gia as a cam­paign issue.

McCain warned Russ­ian lead­ers Tues­day that their assault in Geor­gia risks “the ben­e­fits they enjoy from being part of the civ­i­lized world.”

On April 17, a month and a half after Sche­une­mann stopped work­ing for Geor­gia, his part­ner signed a $200,000 agree­ment with the Geor­gian gov­ern­ment. The deal added to an arrange­ment that brought in more than $800,000 to the two-man firm from 2004 to mid-2007. For the dura­tion of the cam­paign, Sche­une­mann is tak­ing a leave of absence from the firm.

“Sche­une­man­n’s work as a lob­by­ist pos­es valid ques­tions about McCain’s judg­ment in choos­ing some­one who — and whose firm — are paid to pro­mote the inter­ests of oth­er nations,” said New York Uni­ver­si­ty law pro­fes­sor Stephen Gillers. “So one must ask whether McCain is get­ting dis­in­ter­est­ed advice, at least when the issues con­cern those nations.”

McCain has been to Geor­gia three times since 1997 and “this is an issue that he has been involved with for well over a decade,” McCain cam­paign spokesman Bri­an Rogers said.

McCain’s strong con­dem­na­tion in recent days of Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary action against Geor­gia as “total­ly, absolute­ly unac­cept­able” reflects long-stand­ing ties between McCain and hard-line con­ser­v­a­tives such as Sche­une­mann, an aide in the 1990s to then-Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Trent Lott.


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