You Can Hear Me Now

The McCains got two cellphone towers built right on their property by Verizon and AT&T -- two companies that have given John McCain both hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions.
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From my colleague Dave Miller, posting at

We've all been there - you're in a remote area and cellphone coverage is lacking or sometimes non-existent. Most of us resign ourselves to being out of touch for awhile.

But when you're Cindy McCain, you get two cellphone towers built right on your property by Verizon and AT&T - two companies that have given John McCain both hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions and over a dozen lobbyist bundlers.

That's the story, according to The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi, and it's one that goes to the heart of why John McCain's lobbyist ties are so important. The article makes it clear that the towers were completely unnecessary in terms of providing coverage, and so few people lived near them that they could never be profitable.

Of course, none of that may matter when the McCains are the customers. Why? Well, Sen. McCain has been a friend to AT&T, Verizon and other telecom giants during his service on the Senate Commerce Committee, where he is a senior member and former chairman. And it turns out that McCain and these two companies have had a healthy exchange of money and lobbyists over the years.

According to a Campaign Money Watch analysis of data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, AT&T employees and PACs have given McCain $480,408.00 since 1989. Verizon has contributed $282,572.00. AT&T is his No. 3 all-time contributor; Verizon is No. 11.

A list of the people who have lobbied for AT&T and Verizon forms a virtual who's-who of McCain's campaign staff, advisors and fundraisers. They include: national finance co-chair and bundler Wayne Berman, senior advisor Charlie Black, McCain's Senate chief of staff, Mark Buse, VP vetter A.B. Culvahouse, campaign manager Rick Davis, deputy RNC chair Frank Donatelli, deputy campaign manager Christian Ferry, congressional liaison John Green, former finance chair Tom Loeffler, mega-bundler Tim McKone, George W. Bush national finance chair Jack Oliver and transition team head William Timmons.

In total, AT&T has paid nearly $20.9 million in lobbying fees to lobbyists now connected to McCain's campaign, with Verizon paying just over $7 million. Those same lobbyists have bundled $600,000 for McCain.

The best way to illustrate these many, many connections is to visit - click on one of the lobbyists mentioned above to see just how complicated this web (with McCain at the center) really is.

All those connections appear to have helped the McCains get good cellphone reception, even though AT&T and Verizon had to navigate through plenty of red tape to do it. That they're willing to do such favors for McCain suggests they might expect a lot from him if he were elected to the White House. With so many of their lobbyists in McCain's orbit, they'd definitely have reason to be hopeful.

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