Of the 66 current or former lobbyists working for the Arizona senator or raising money for his presidential campaign, 23 have lobbied for telecommunications companies in the past decade, Senate lobbying disclosures show.
McCain has netted about $765,000 in political donations from those telecom lobbyists, their spouses, colleagues at their firms and their telecom clients during the past decade, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign-finance records shows.
It's unclear how much more money those lobbyists have raised for McCain. Eighteen of them are listed by the campaign as "bundlers," which are major fundraisers. McCain doesn't disclose how much each bundler has raised — unlike Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who categorize their bundlers by the amount they raise. For example, Clinton's "Hillraisers" have brought in more than $100,000 each.
McCain is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the telecom industry and the Federal Communications Commission. He has repeatedly pushed industry-backed legislation since 2000, particularly during a second stint as committee chairman from 2003 through 2005. His efforts to eliminate taxes and regulations on telecommunications services won him praise from industry executives.
People who lobbied for telecom companies on those issues include McCain's campaign manager, his deputy manager, his finance chief, his top unpaid political adviser and his Senate chief of staff. Telecom companies have paid the lobbying firms that employed those top five McCain advisersmore than $4.4 million since 1999, lobbying records show.
McCain "does not do favors for special interests or lobbyists. Period," spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in an e-mail. McCain opposed Internet access taxes, she said, as part of his "consistent record of opposing new taxes."