By Joel Wendland
The Associated Press is reporting that three of John McCain's top campaign advisers lobbied for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS), which recently won a lucrative Pentagon contract to replace Air Force tankers.
While two of those aides are said to have dropped lobbying activities during the campaign, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for EADS while working for McCain, according to the AP story.
The contract, which went to EADS (Airbus) and its partner Northrop Grumman instead of Boeing, angered many after its announcement. Critics described it as outsourcing national security and a dismal failure at addressing the growing unemployment problem in a time of economic recession.
Thousands of Boeing workers are members of the Machinist union (International Association of Machinists – IAM) and stand to lose work due to the outcome of the contract. According to the union, if the contract had been awarded to Boeing, it would have supported 44,000 jobs for Boeing and 300 contractors in 40 states.
IAM General Vice President Rich Michalski blasted the Bush administration, saying, “President Bush and his administration have denied real economic stimulus to the American people and chosen instead to create jobs in Toulouse, France.”
The decision to outsource this project also flies in the face of President Bush's recent denial of harsh economic realities. "I think actually spending in the war might help with jobs," he told NBC News just days before a government report showed a net loss of 63,000 jobs from the economy.
In 2005, John McCain held Senate hearings that investigated Boeing and used his influence to block the Pentagon from considering EU subsidies EADS/Airbus receives to lower its prices. Both actions likely played a strong role in hindering the awarding of this contract to Boeing.
In addition to his close relationships with current and former EADS/Airbus lobbyists, John McCain took thousands in campaign contributions from EADS employees. A recent report by the Seattle PI suggests, however, that Hillary Clinton has taken the most of the three remaining presidential candidates from executives at EADS's partner Northrop Grumman.
There are troubling signs of a conflict of interest and influence peddling by John McCain deserving a serious Senate Ethics Committee investigation.