This mostly from John Aravosis at Americablog.
"Verizon and AT&T provided free cell towers to the McCain ranch, and admit it's because he's running for president. ...
"This isn't funny. That would be an illegal corporate contribution to the McCain campaign. And it's bribery of a sitting US Senator. Especially after AT&T admits that this is why they gave McCain the free goods -- BECAUSE he's running for president. Are they mad? John McCain wasn't the Republican candidate yet -- and even if he were, corporations can't donate free favors to his campaign -- McCain was one of the many men running for the GOP nomination ... how does his being simply a candidate justify AT&T and Verizon giving him a huge illegal bribe? Are AT&T and Verizon stupid?
"No, they're very smart, in fact. John McCain chaired the committee of jurisdiction, and now is one of the top Republicans, on their issues. So a bribe made a lot of sense, albeit completely criminal sense.
"Oh, and guess what else? McCain's senior staff in his personal office and campaign have worked as hired lobbyists for AT&T and Verizon. Surprise!"
James Grimaldi at the WaPo noted that Bob Bauer, Obama's general counsel, "criticized John McCain for accepting free cell phone towers from two wireless companies that placed the devices on his wife's remote ranch in Arizona to improve a coverage dead zone.
"'This is John McCain's display of his maverick ethics: He believes he is entitled to free cell service while other Americans have to pay for theirs.'"
Now, the story gets "funny."
Brian Rogers, McCain campaign spokesman, told the AP that "This story is a disgrace. The McCain's went through the process that is available to anybody who subscribes to one of these cell phone companies to inquire about getting service."
And a Verizon exec claimed that "Verizon received a request from Mrs. McCain, but declined. Subsequent to that, the Secret Service made a legitimate request for a temporary tower for its work and Verizon completed as is required by our contract with the agency."
And, if you believe that...
Actually, Federal Election Commission reports indicate that AT&T and Verizon are the "top wireless services used by McCain campaign workers...furthermore, "public records reveal a different time line. Getting cell coverage was the culmination of an effort begun in early 2007 by Cindy McCain, when her staff first requested coverage through Verizon's Web site ... After discussing the matter with the company, Mrs. McCain offered land for a permanent cell tower. She gave Verizon authorization to act on her behalf to seek permits from the county ... Cindy McCain signed a contract in May." [2007!]
What eventually happened, for a variety of reasons, was that Verizon quit on the permanent tower and installed a cell site on wheels.
Jim Cicconi, an AT&T exec, had the gall to suggest that portable towers were also offered to the stadium site where Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech. They set up temporary cell towers.
"But telecommunications experts told the Post that installing portable towers for major events with thousands of people is a money-maker for wireless companies because thousands of people using phone and handheld devices bring in a lot of income using billable minutes."
In other words, to compare a convention site with a remote ranch is ridiculous on the face of it.
Aravosis points out that "Ethics lawyers said Cindy McCain's dealings with the wireless companies stand out because Sen. John McCain is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. He has been a leading advocate for industry-backed legislation, FIGHTING REGULATIONS AND TAXES ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICES." [My emphasis]
In addition, "Five [McCain] campaign officials, including campaign manager Rick Davis, have worked as lobbyists for Verizon. Former McCain staffer Robert Fisher is an in-house lobbyist for Verizon and is volunteering for the campaign. Fisher, Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg and company lobbyists have raised more than $1.3 million for McCain's presidential campaign and Verizon employees are among the top 20 corporate donors over McCain's political career ...
"McCain's Senate chief of staff Mark Buse, senior strategist Charles R. Black, Jr., and several other campaign staffers have registered as AT&T lobbyists in the past. AT&T Executive Vice President Timothy McKone and AT&T lobbyists have raised more than $2.3 million for McCain. AT&T employees have donated more than $325,000 to McCain campaigns, putting the company in the No. 3 spot for career donations to McCain, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsible Politics."
None of this should be surprising, given what we know about John McCain's present and past career. He never met a lobbyist he didn't like or wouldn't help. But it seems a wee bit hypocritical of him to go on television and denounce his lobbyist pals.
I'll bet they are laughing their asses while sipping their martinis at whatever waterhole lobbyists use these days.