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Thursday, 07 December 2006 08:42

DNC: McCain’s Ethics in a Full Nelson

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from the Democratic National Committee

Washington, DC – Today, it was reported that Senator John McCain has tapped controversial Republican operative Terry Nelson to be his presidential campaign manager. Nelson was implicated in the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal, Tom DeLay’s money laundering scandal in Texas and oversaw the creation of an ad against a Democratic Senate candidate in 2006 that many observers believe was overtly racist.

“With the hiring of Terry Nelson, it’s clear that John McCain’s ‘straight talk’ on ethics reform is nothing more than double-talk,” said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton. “His new campaign manager has overseen efforts to disenfranchise voters in New Hampshire, was involved in a money laundering scheme and approved the airing of an attack ad that was deemed overtly racist. After flip-flopping on almost every issue he championed in 2000, John McCain's actions continue to show that he’s willing to do or say anything to win.”

Nelson And New Hampshire Phone Jamming Scandal

Terry Nelson Supervised Convicted Phone Jammer. Terry Nelson has a pattern of questionable tactics having been the same RNC official who in 2002 hired and supervised then-regional RNC political director James Tobin, convicted in the New Hampshire phone jamming scheme. [Union Leader, 10/20/05; Union Leader, 3/23/06]

Nelson And Tom DeLay’s Money Laundering Scheme

McCain Investigates Abramoff and DeLay’s Shady Dealings – But Then Hires Terry Nelson, Who Served As Middleman in DeLay TRMPAC Money Laundering Scheme. McCain’s Senate investigation into Jack Abramoff was considered to be one of two “investigative bombs with a long fuse…sizzling under Tom DeLay.” Despite that, McCain had no qualms about hiring Terry Nelson, who served as the middleman in the other scandal brewing around DeLay – the TRMPAC scandal. Nelson was named in the indictment on that matter, and had to testify in court. Despite that, McCain said that he had “no qualms” about Nelson’s ethics. [The Nation, 10/11/06; Austin American-Statesman, 9/14/05; Travis County District Court Bill of Indictment, Thomas Dale DeLay, 9/28/05; CQ Weekly, 3/20/2004; San Antonio Express-News, 3/15/2004; Austin American-Statesman, 2/26/2004; FEC,4/8/2004; Texas Ethics Commission, 4/8/2004; AP, 3/20/04; Houston Chronicle, 10/15/05; Cox News Service, 4/3/06]

Nelson And Racist Attack Ad In Tennessee Senate Race

1997: McCain Said He Was “Angry” About Accusations That Republicans Were Exploiting Racial Divisions. “Obviously, it made me very angry, especially to accuse Republicans of exploiting racial divisions in America,” McCain said. [Washington Post, 1/26/97]

RNC Racist Ad Approved By Terry Nelson, Senior McCain Strategist. During the 2006 election cycle, Terry Nelson was the head of the independent expenditures operation for the Republican National Committee. Nelson, as head of that operation, is responsible for the content of the advertisements run by that part of the RNC. Nelson’s played an important role in approving an ad that attacked Democratic Senate Candidate Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee. Many strategists and observers argued that the ad was overtly racist. After the ad ran, McCain strategist John Weaver said that McCain had no interest in firing Nelson, who was then an advisor to McCain’s PAC, Straight Talk America. [New York Times, 10/27/06]

Wal-Mart Fired Nelson Over The Ford Ad. "Under pressure from black leaders and union groups, the nation's largest retailer said last night that it had cut ties with a prominent Republican strategist who helped create the provocative advertisement [running against Ford]...The strategist, Terry Nelson, was hired by Wal-Mart in 2005...Wal-Mart, in a statement, said that Mr. Nelson's Washington consulting firm...had "sent a letter to Wal-Mart ending its working relationship with our company." A person familiar with the letter said it made clear that the decision to end the relationship was based on requests from Wal-Mart. [New York Times, 10/27/06]

  • Specialist in Political Advertising Said Ad Makes Willie Horton Ad "Look Like Child's Play." John Geer, a professor at Vanderbilt University and a specialist in political advertising, said that it "is playing to a lot of fears" and "frankly makes the Willie Horton ad look like child's play." [New York Times, 10/26/06]
  • Washington Head of NAACP Said Ad Plays On Fears of Interracial Dating. Hilary Shelton, Washington director of the NAACP, said the ad plays off fears some people still have about interracial couples. "In a Southern state like Tennessee, some stereotypes still exist," he said. "There's very clearly some racial subtext in an ad like that." [CBS, 10/26/06]
  • William Cohen Said Ad Was Overtly Racist. William Cohen, a Republican and former Defense Secretary, said, "I think the Republicans have to be careful also in terms of not engaging in conduct -- and I was watching the Tennessee race specifically. It reminded me of what happened in North Carolina with Harvey Gantt, a purely over-racist approach." [CNN, 10/25/06]



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