McCain often brags that he led the Senate investigation into fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who overbilled his Indian tribal clients millions of dollars. However, the New York Times reports that lobbyists in McCain’s inner circle “played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation“:
For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.
After firing Abramoff, the Coushatta tribe hired lobbyist Hance Scarborough, who had been friends with McCain since the ’80s. Scarborough charged the tribe nearly $1.3 million for 11 months of work, although his firm produced few tangible results. In 2005, Scarborough also put McCain’s then-chief strategist John Weaver on the tribe’s payroll. The Coushattas said it was like the Abramoff scandal “happening all over again.” Currently on the McCain campaign, there are 40 fundraisers and top advisers who have lobbied or worked for gambling interests.