21 October 2008

McCain Campaign Solicits Funds from Russian Diplomat

We know that Senator McCain objects to foreign sources donating to presidential campaigns--after all, such a practice is illegal. We also know that Senator McCain is no fan of Russia; in fact, he seems to take a rather aggressive stance when talking about Russia:

McCain has proposed expelling Russia from the Group of Eight world's major industrial nations and says Russia deserves international condemnation for its August war with Georgia,

He also has derided President Bush for once saying he got a sense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin's soul the first time they met and locked eyes in 2001. "I looked in Putin's eyes. I saw three letters: a K, a G and a B," McCain said last year, referring to Putin's time in the Soviet Union's KGB security agency. (AP)

So why did his campaign send a letter (dated 29 September) to the Russian Ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, to request a a contribution? From the Washington Post:
The Russian mission to the United Nations furnished a copy of a Sept. 29 campaign letter it received urging Churkin to contribute up to $5,000 to "stop the Obama Democrats from seizing control of the entire federal government."

"Please know this -- we will not concede any region to the Democrats," the letter states.
The letter also noted that a contribution would "help McCain 'promote freedom and democracy throughout the world'" (AP).

It should come as no surprise to learn that the Russians declined the McCain campaign's invitation, and, of course, the Russians received the letter only due to some terrible mix-up:

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the[McCain] campaign, said he was unable to pinpoint what caused the blunder.

"It sounds like they might have been sent to the wrong place. We obviously don't solicit campaign contributions from people who aren't able to contribute," he said. (AP)

But embarrassing nonetheless. Especially since the RNC today raised the question of whether Obama has received foreign-based contributions.

And here's a curiosity: according to this source, in 2007, John McCain accepted about $10,000 from members of the Bonanno family. Here's another take on the story (from February 2008), which includes this bit of information:
a quick search on OpenSecrets.org revealed that at least five members of the Bonanno family made generous donations ($2,100 each) to the McCain campaign. Each member made a donation that was $200 less than the federal maximum on the same day.
Interesting, no? Of course, maybe these Bonannos weren't the Bonannos. But in a curious bit of related news, we learn that in 1995, the Bonannos invited Senator McCain to a birthday fete for former godfather Joseph Bonanno. The invitation made the New York Times:
Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, had sent birthday greetings [. . . .] the note from Senator McCain's office, his press secretary said, was written by a staff member declining an invitation for the Senator to attend).
Of course, many are questioning why Senator McCain was invited to the shindig, and how long the Bonannos have been contributing to his political campaigns (hit the Google for "Bonanno McCain" and you'll see). But that simply leads to arguments based on the guilt-by-association fallacy, and haven't we had enough of those?

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