On CBS’s Face The Nation this morning, uber lobbyist Charlie Black — who serves as Sen. John McCain’s chief political adviser — attempted to exonerate McCain for sending badgering letters to the FCC in 1999 at the behest of a telecommunications company with business before the commission. “Letters to the FCC by the chairman of their oversight committee are nothing unusual,” said Black.
Black then cited former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, who left the commission two years before McCain sent the letters, as vouching for the appropriateness of the letters:
In fact, a Democratic FCC chairman, Reed Hundt, said that Sen. McCain’s letter was perfectly appropriate.
Black’s reference to Hundt is a misleading effort to shift attention from McCain’s relationship to lobbyists. In fact, Hundt told the Boston Globe this week that “he shouldn’t have been” cited as exonerating McCain:
Reed Hundt, the former FCC chairman cited as exonerating McCain, said in an interview that he shouldn’t have been, notwithstanding a letter to the editor he wrote in 2000 praising the senator. “I can’t speak to a thing,” Hundt said yesterday. “I don’t know anything about what he wrote to Kennard and not to me.”
Hundt says he “can’t speak” to the appropriateness of letters McCain sent to then-FCC Chairman William E. Kennard in 1999. But Kennard can, and in ’99, he responded to McCain, saying his letters were “highly unusual”:
I must respectfully note that it is highly unusual for the commissioners to be asked to publicly announce their voting status on a matter that is still pending. I am concerned that inquiries concerning the individual deliberations of each commissioner could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission’s deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties.
Democratic Commisisoner Gloria Tristani also objected, saying in 2000 that she had “never received such an out-of-line request” in her two years on the commission.