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July 6, 2008

Another McCain Top Adviser Has Iranian Business Ties

Listed in: Other Foreign Policy, GOP Hypocrisies, NJDC News, Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) seeks answers to questions about Senator John McCain’s Chief Strategist, Charlie Black, and his Congressional lobbying efforts on behalf of companies that do business with Iran, including Chinese oil conglomerate CNOOC. Ultimately, the deal Black lobbied for was defeated by Congress in part because of CNOOC’s ties to Iran.

Charlie Black, working for his firm Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey, was paid $60,000 to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of the Chinese oil conglomerate CNOOC. At the time, CNOOC was mounting an aggressive bid to buy Unocal, a California-based oil giant, and Black was tasked with churning up congressional support. But the bid ultimately fell through, in part because of objections over the China oil industry's ties to Iran, a country in which it had already invested tens of millions of dollars…Flash-forward nearly three years and Black’s old client…later scored a $16 billion deal with the Iranian government. (Stein, Huffington Post, 6/2/08)

The CNOOC deal also elicited outrage from Reps. Joe Barton, (R-TX), then Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ralph Hall, (R-TX), then Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. In a June 27, 2005 letter to President Bush, they were “compelled to express deep concern about the proposed acquisition of Unocal by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation” and that “this transaction poses a clear threat to the energy and national security of the United States.”

McCain, who recently urged further divestment from Iran, has several links between his campaign advisers and Iran. One such connection is McCain’s Chief Economic Adviser and head of the Republican National Committee Victory Fund, Carly Fiorina, who was CEO of Hewlett-Packard when the company surreptitiously avoided the trade boycott of Iran.

“NJDC has been arguing that we should judge candidates based on their voting records and public statements,” said Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of NJDC. “However, McCain and his allies insist on using guilt by association when looking at Democratic candidates. If this is their standard, then we call on them to explain why McCain’s Chief Strategist lobbied for a deal that, according to Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), was ‘a clear threat to the energy and national security of the United States.’”

For more information about how Black lobbied for another company that does business with Iran, take a look at our blog.