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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Loaded with Lobbyists Part 2

By Keith R. Schmitz

Coming up to bat next in the McCain all-star K-Street Team and batting right (they all bat right) is the recently renowned -- thanks to the muck up in the Republic of Georgia -- Randy Scheunemann (nice pose to the right by the way). The problem here is our State Department should be conducting foreign relations, not hired guns like Scheuemann -- as last month's events prove.

From McCain's Lobbyists
A foreign policy advisor to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign who heads Scheunemann & Associates, has worked on behalf of numerous high profile clients, including the National Rifle Association, Lockheed Martin and BP. However, it is his work for Texas businessman Stephen Payne that has garnered the most attention.

Two of Payne’s firms, Worldwide Strategic Partners Inc. and the Caspian Alliance, paid Scheunemann to lobby Congress, the State Department and the National Security Council on their behalf in connection to energy issues.[1] According to The Sunday Times of London, Payne offered to give the former president of Kyrgyzstan access to President Bush and Vice President Cheney in exchange for a $250,000 donation to Bush’s presidential library and a $450,000 payment to his lobbying firm.[2]

Payne was recorded as saying that Scheunemann had been on his payroll for five of the past eight years.[3] His work with Baltic countries has also included efforts on behalf of Georgia, which paid another Scheunemann firm, Orion Strategies, to help the former Soviet republic win admission to NATO. The firm met or spoke to McCain and his staff dozens of times between 2001 and 2008, and made regular political contributions to McCain’s campaign and PAC.

The hard work apparently paid off: In 2006, McCain co-sponsored legislation encouraging Georgia’s admission to NATO, and he has been a vocal supporter of the country during his presidential campaign.[4] Scheunemann was also a prominent supporter of invading Iraq, having served as a board member of the Project for a New American Century and a founder of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.[5]

For a complete look at Randy Scheunemann’s lobbying activities, please visit the non-partisan Center For Responsive Politics’ money-in-politics database.

[1] Pete Yost, “McCain adviser lobbied for Stephen Payne,” The Associated Press, July 21, 2008.

[2] Daniel Foggo and Steven Swinford, “President Bush Lobbyist Stephen Payne In ‘Bribes’ Row Quits,” The Sunday Times Of London, July 20, 2008.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Mark Benjamin, “McCain: To Russia, Without Love,”, June 9, 2008,

[5] Peter Slevin, “Randy Scheunemann: McCain Adviser Campaigned for War,”, June 17, 2008,

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