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Thursday, August 24, 2006

McCain PAC Off the Straight and Narrow, Again

Jim Geraghty, proprietor of National Review Online's superb TKS blog, charter member of The Examiner's Blog Board of Contributors and chief "Geraghtyite" in the Hugh Hewitt political universe, has exposed another less-than-truthful - aka a lie - by GOP presidential aspirant and Arizona Senator John McCain's political action committee.

You will recall earlier this summer that Geraghty forced the McCain PAC - Straight Talk America - to admit publicly that it had retained blogger Patrick Hynes. The admission came after STA executive director Craig Goldman flatly denied knowing Hynes.

More recently, Geraghty asked STA and Goldman if the McCain PAC had an official relationship with former Dean campaign strategy Nicco Mele. Again, a flat denial. Then ... well, let's just let Jim pick up the story at this point:

"There's really no other way to look at this. For the second time in less than a month, I asked a direct question, and I received a direct answer, that was flatly incorrect. One time it's an accident, twice it's a pattern.

"I can understand that having Dean’s web guy on staff can create some headaches for a candidate for the Republican nomination. But that doesn’t excuse denials to direct inquiries that contradict the facts.

"Even a 'no comment' or 'I can’t talk about this because no decision on that has been made yet,' would have been fairer. Instead, I’m told that Mele is 'offering free advice' when in fact it’s the other way around, that according to the Hotline account, McCain’s people 'recruited' Mele."

Odd behavior coming from the head of a PAC bearing the name "Straight Talk America," no? But wait, there's more to this story because STA is working on behalf of a guy who increasingly acts like the presumptive GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

But if McCain wants to be the GOP nominee, why is his PAC paying a consultant whose clients read like a Favorite Lefty Causes index? Geraghty explains:

"The clients of Mele’s firm EchoDitto, by the way, include Air America Radio, Barack Obama’s Senate campaign, the Clinton Global Initiative, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano in Connecticut, the campaign of Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm in Michigan, NoIraqDraft.com, Rock the Vote, PurpleOcean.org which is the online activism hub of the Service Employees International Union, and Rosie.com, the personal blog of Rosie O'Donnell."

This sort of thing is known in journalism circles as being "factually challenged." And speaking of journalists, Geraghty encourages the nation's political scribes to be careful, be very careful with what they are told by STA:

"I would urge reporters who deal with Straight Talk America to double check and verify everything that they are told; it is entirely possible that what you are told by the organization, on basic matters such as who is working for them, is completely false."

What should happen now is a surge of stories by political reporters going back and re-checking things they were told by STAers, as well as a marked decrease in the fawning reporting to this point that has reflected the herd's assumptions about the Arizona senator being the straight-talking independent candidate who tells it like it is.

But I'm not holding my breath for that prediction's fulfillment any time soon.

UPDATE: Patrick Hynes has something to say

He was keeping a bit of a low profile regarding Mele, but no more. Go here at Ankle Biting Pundits for his complete post.