All Cindy McCain had to do was make on online request and they were delivered. She made her decision to solve the lack of cell phone service, when McCain launched his presidential bid. Cindy had requested one for their 15 acre ranch near Sedona. She received not just one tower but two, one from Verizon and the other from AT&T. Washington Post has the exclusive.
Verizon delivered a portable tower know as a “cell site on wheels” — free of charge — to Cindy McCain’s property in June in response to an online request from Cindy McCain’s staff early last year. Such devices are usually reserved for restoring service when cell coverage is knocked out during emergencies, such as hurricanes.
In July, AT&T followed suit, wheeling in a portable tower for free to match Verizon’s offer. “This is an unusual situation,” said AT&T spokeswoman Claudia B. Jones. “You can’t have a presidential nominee in an area where there is not cell coverage.”
Over the course of the past year, Cindy McCain had offered land for a permanent cell tower and Verizon embarked on an expensive process to meet her needs, hiring contractors and seeking county land-use permits even though few people other than the McCains would benefit from the tower.
Ethics lawyers said Cindy McCain’s dealings with the wireless companies stand out because Sen. John McCain is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. He has been a leading advocate for industry-backed legislation, fighting regulations and taxes on telecommunications services.
McCain and his campaign have close ties to Verizon and AT&T. Five campaign officials, including campaign manager Rick Davis, have worked as lobbyists for Verizon. Former McCain staffer Robert Fisher is an in-house lobbyist for Verizon and is volunteering for the campaign. Fisher, Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg and company lobbyists have raised more than $1.3 million for McCain’s presidential campaign and Verizon employees are among the top 20 corporate donors over McCain’s political career, giving more than $155,000 to his campaigns.
McCain’s Senate chief of staff Mark Buse, senior strategist Charles R. Black Jr., and several other campaign staffers have registered as AT&T lobbyists in the past. AT&T Executive Vice President Timothy McKone and AT&T lobbyists have raised more than $2.3 million for McCain. AT&T employees have donated more than $325,000 to McCain campaigns, putting the company in the No. 3 spot for career donations to McCain, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
“It raises the aura of special consideration for somebody because he is a member of the Senate,” said Stanley Brand, a former House counsel for Democrats and an ethics attorney who represents politicians of both parties. “Here is a guy who is campaigning as Mr. Maverick and Mr. Reformer and he keeps skirting the edge.”
McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said the senator is not a regulator and Cindy McCain received no favors from Verizon.
AT&T and Verizon hope McCain wins so Net Neutrality will be a thing of the past. This way they can impose their tiered service packages and make a fortune. It’s not difficult to figure out who they are voting for this election.
Update: McCain responds to Washington Post article:
The temporary cell towers placed by Verizon Wireless and AT&T near the McCain cabin outside Sedona, Arizona are just that — temporary. Those moveable communication services were placed on location after Senator McCain became the Republican nominee in order to service Verizon Wireless and AT&T customers — including the Secret Service and the national press corps. The campaign has been informed that the Verizon Wireless temporary facility was specifically requested by the Secret Service pursuant to their existing contract with Verizon Wireless, and that AT&T decided to install a similar one to service its customers during this period. These were decisions by the companies involved and the Secret Service, and not the McCain campaign.
Neither of these temporary facilities relate to Mrs. McCain’s previous request to Verizon Wireless, via the company’s website and as a customer of Verizon Wireless, for the company to explore providing permanent service to that area. As the Post article noted, “Mrs. McCain’s staff went through the Website as any member of the general public would — no string pulling, no phone calls, no involvement of Senate staff,’ [McCain spokesman Brian] Rogers said.”
The Post quoted a Secret Service spokesman saying the process was underway when they arrived. The background problem in the story is the appearance: McCain’s seat on the Commerce Committee, which he used to chair, puts any private dealings with the telecoms under the microscope.
Update II: Obama’s Attorney Is Critical Of Free Cell Service.
Obama’s top lawyer this morning is weighing in on the two free phone towers, update courtesy of the Washington Post – The Trail.
The Obama campaign’s top lawyer today criticized John McCain for accepting free cell phone towers from two wireless companies that placed the devices on his wife’s remote ranch in Arizona to improve a coverage dead zone.
“This is John McCain’s display of his maverick ethics: He believes he is entitled to free cell service while other Americans have to pay for theirs,” said Bob Bauer, general counsel of the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign and chairman of the political law practice at Perkins Coie LLP.
Rest of the article at Washington Post.