McCain Faces Turbulence at Home

Posted September 26, 2003 at 5:42pm

McCain Faces Turbulence at Home. Even for a high-flying company like the Boeing Co., it helps to have a little support on the ground.

For Boeing, that support comes from the thousands of blue-collar machinists and aerospace workers who build its fleet of airplanes.

Last week, the labor union that represents those workers announced plans to launch an attack on one of their leading adversaries on Capitol Hill: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has nearly single-handedly held up a multibillion- dollar shot in the arm for the beleaguered company.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers plans to run radio ads in Arizona charging that McCain is jeopardized local jobs in the state by trying to block the Air Force from leasing dozens of Boeing-made airborne refueling tankers.

“When I hear McCain advocating for the leasing agreement, I think he is being the spokesperson for Airbus. I’m asking, ‘Why didn’t he register as a foreign agent?’” said Rich Michalski, a senior official at the union. “We are going to get that message out.”

Michalski said Boeing and its suppliers are responsible for $1 billion worth of Arizona’s economy and thousands of jobs.

By opposing the deal, Michalski asserted, McCain is jeopardizing U.S. jobs at a time when the aerospace industry is in a tailspin. That, in turn, helps rival Airbus, a European conglomerate funded in part by the French government.

McCain responded by saying that “all who have considered the proposal agree that leasing Boeing’s tankers will cost billions more than buying them outright,” according to McCain spokesman Marshall Whittmann.

He continued: “The special interests are squawking because Sen. McCain is opposing a sweetheart deal that would provide a multibillion-dollar benefit to Boeing and its union at the expense of the American taxpayer and our men and woman in uniform.”

Still, Michalski is unmoved

“Where are his priorities? They certainly aren’t in the state of Arizona,” he steamed. “The guy wants to employ people in France rather than people in the United States of America.”

Sierra Goes on the Attack. As leading Democrats charge that President Bush misled the public heading into the Iraq war, a leading environmental group is preparing to charge that Bush misled New Yorkers in the days after Sept. 11, 2001.

The Sierra Club is running newspaper advertisements this week asserting that the White House gave the public “misleading information” about the air quality at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the terrorist strike on the World Trade Center.

Citing a study by New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, the environmental group says that 78 percent of the workers at Ground Zero examined by the hospital suffered from lung ailments.

The ad comes as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) threatens to hold up Bush’s nomination of Gov. Mike Leavitt (R-Utah) to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency until the administration agrees to look into the lasting health effects of the towers’ collapse.

“Be straight with us,” the Sierra Club ad tells Bush. “What we know can’t hurt us.”

P.R. for the Movies. A Washington-based film company has hired a former Member of Congress and his public relations shop to help push for federal support for movies and television shows that bolster the image of the United States in the Arab and Muslim world.

According to lobbying disclosure forms culled by PoliticalMoneyLine.com, Worlds Away Films hired a pair of Minnesota public affairs consultants to work on the project.

The consultants, former Rep. Arlen Erdahl (R-Minn.) and Irving Stern, plan to seek Congressional and State Department support for the “promotion and funding” of such image-boosting media.

Strategic Partnership, Part I. Two Pennsylvania firms have signed a partnership alliance to “provide expanded media relations, issue advocacy and other communication services.” Law firm Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling and public relations firm Ceisler Jubelirer LLC have agreed to collaborate while serving their lobbying group clients. 

Strategic Partnership, Part II. Three groups have formed an alliance to provide “consulting and lobbying services to clients at the state and national levels.”

Wolf Block Government Relations LP, Perkins, Smith, Cohen & Crowe and The Commonwealth Group have agreed to collaborate while serving clients in the areas of public policy advocacy, consulting and lobbying.

Daimler Retains Blank Rome. German-owned DaimlerChrylser Corp. has hired the lobbying shop Blank Rome to lobby on legislation that would require the Pentagon to buy more of its products from U.S. companies.

The legislation is included in the defense authorization bill, which is stuck in conference committee negotiations.

Magazine Lobbying? Mother Jones magazine inked a deal with the Sheridan Group to lobby on clean water legislation. The Sheridan Group will monitor bills that clarify U.S. jurisdiction over domestic waterways.

Airport Ads. A company that specializes in running ads in airports has signed up a lobbying shop to lobby the Transportation Department on rules for airport ads.

Interspace Airport Advertising hired lobbying firm Xenophon Strategies to work on DOT rules regarding the size of airport ads.

Jessica L. Brady contributed to this report.