Influence peddling on the Straight Talk Express

Charles Black, who runs a lobbying firm, is still drawing a full-time salary from his firm even as he travels on the Straight Talk Express as one of McCain’s senior staffers. How does he earn his salary? Why, he does his lobbying work by phone from the campaign bus.

I’d missed this choice little detail about John McCain, the lobbyists’ friend, until I saw a blast-email from the DNC.

Charles Black, the senior campaign official who isn’t being paid by the campaign but is still drawing a full-time salary from his lobbying firm &#8212 which lobbies for outfits with business before the Senate Commerce Committee &#8212 has figured out a way to earn his salary:

Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus.

Imagine you’re a Republican Senator, and you get a call from the Republican Presidential nominee’s campaign bus asking you to do a favor for a corporate client of one of the candidate’s top staffers. Feeling any pressure?

It’s not quite clear whether paying an employee full time while that employee is traveling with a candidate and working on the candidate’s campaign constitutes an illegal corporate campaign contribution. But whether it does or not, it’s not entirely consistent with the idea that McCain is trying to get corporate money out of politics.

The DNC is sending this around as an email, and lots of Blue bloggers are picking it up.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: