The Flash is frothing at the mouth, anticipating the next Federal Election Commission campaign filings, due out later this month. Just whom has Campaign Finance Reform Poster Boy John McCain (our senior senator, no less) been sucking up to, lo these past tobacco-money-free months?
Don't cry for McCain, Arizona--his campaign coffers are stuffed, if reports of fund raisers at ritzy D.C. restaurants and the homes of local luminaries hold true. Look to big-business types courting McCain's Senate Commerce Committee to be among the senator's most generous givers. The latest campaign finance figures for this fall's elections--as of March 31--link our Snowy-Haired Senator to, among others, that Bespectacled Geek from Redmond--none other than Microsoft honcho Bill Gates--and his merry band of high-tech execs.
Microsoft--up to its monitors in antitrust investigations--has reinvented itself as a lobbying animal in the past few months, thanks in part, apparently, to advice from none other than John McCain, Reform Maverick.
From the February 2 issue of Fortune:
Microsoft executives have even begun to ask lawmakers for advice. Chief operating officer Bob Herbold visited Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain of Arizona, whom many consider the capital's leading Mr. Clean. Herbold asked what Microsoft needed to do to improve its image in the Capitol.
McCain says he reluctantly recommended that Microsoft shed its aloofness and get its hands dirty with a vigorous lobbying campaign. It's too early to know whether Microsoft will follow through thoroughly on McCain's advice.
It might have been too early to know in February, but recent events show Microsoft took McCain's advice--in spades.
Haley Barbour--a D.C. powerhouse whose credentials include a recent stint as the chief of the Republican National Committee--recently signed on as a lobbyist for Microsoft. He's been up to the Hill to meet with McCain.
And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics--a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C.--Microsoft now holds the dubious distinction of being the nation's biggest contributor to federal candidates and political parties. As of May 1, the company had donated almost $300,000 in PAC, soft money and individual contributions.
Guess who one of the lucky recipients has been? None other than John McCain--and not without possible explanation. You politics junkies out there will recall that Microsoft has been pushing to have antitrust hearings moved from Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch's unfriendly Judiciary Committee to McCain's chummy Commerce Committee.
On May 11, the Seattle Times reported:
. . . Microsoft's chief operating officer, Bob Herbold, joined GOP congressman-turned-lobbyist Rod Chandler and Seattle business executives in hosting a $500-a-person fund-raiser for Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., at the Woodmark Hotel on Lake Washington in February. That gathering netted $6,000. A second McCain fund-raiser at a private residence later raised even more money for other Republican party-building committees, [Washington Republican Senator Slade] Gorton said.
And who knows how many other fund raisers Microsoft has thrown for its pal, John McCain, since then. So now you see why the Flash can't wait to get into that July 15 FEC report.
Magna Cum Loud
Arizona's J.D. Hayworth is the dumbest member of Congress. So says Washingtonian magazine, which in its July "Best & Worst of Congress" survey picked Hayworth first in the "No Rocket Scientist Category."
Told of the designation, Hayworth reportedly replied, "Of course I'm not a rocket scientist. I used ta be a TV sportscaster, though, which means you gotta dress nice from the waist up. . . ."
Washingtonian, which came up with its rankings after surveying 1,200 Congressional staffers, also gave Hayworth the runner-up trophy for its "Biggest Windbag" category.
In September 1995, during his first term, Progressive magazine named Hayworth one of the "Ten Dimmest Bulbs in Congress."
And speaking of bulbs . . .
Arizona golf fanatic and chintzy caddy tipper Dan Quayle, once just a heartbeat away from the presidency, has made his intentions for the year 2000 unofficially official.
"We're likely to run for president in 2000," he told an interviewer last week on America's Voice Tonight.
And the sniping has already started--from Republicans.
The first zinger at Quayle came from California's far right wingnut Bob "B-1" Dornan, who was whipped in his last bid for Congress by a Latina.
Dornan has blasted Quayle for avoiding military service by joining the National Guard during the Vietnam era.
"It [National Guard] was clearly a hideout for some, and Dan fell into that category," says Dornan, a former military jet pilot.
Another, slightly more credible GOPer, Texas Senator Phil Gramm, told a seatmate on a recent commercial flight that there were two Republicans who would never get his vote--Quayle and Pat Buchanan.
The Flash's meaningless prediction of the week: The 2000 presidential race will pit GOP nominee John McCain against another iconoclastic populist, Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota.
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