Mobile reception sucks an elephant dong at John McCain's Arizona ranch. Or it did, until Cindy McCain "embarked on an expensive public process" for Verizon Wireless to build a permanent cell tower at their ranch, reports the Washington Post. That got scrapped, but Verizon did see fit to "navigate a lengthy county regulatory process that hit a snag on environmental concerns" in order to get the McCains setup with at least a portable tower, absolutely free of charge, after a Secret Service request. AT&T caught word of this, and brought in one of their own towers, also free. Wouldn't ya know, there's a laundry list of ethical concerns? Update: Verizon has responded to the Post's story, their statement below.
McCain is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which happens to oversee the FCC, which regulates the telecom industry—like AT&T and Verizon. Conflict of interest much? And it's not like McCain and Verizon are strangers to each other, anyway. Five of his campaign officials, including manager Rick Davis, have been soul-sucking lobbyists in Washington. A former staffer, Robert Fisher, is now Verizon's in-house lobbyist. Verizon chief Ivan G. Seidenberg, Fisher and other Verizon lobbyists have plowed over $US1.3 million into McCain's campaign, and Verizon employees are one of its top 20 corporate donors over the course of McCain's career.
The AT&T situation is as bad, or worse: AT&T lobbyists have raised $US2.3 million for McCain, and their employees are his no. 3 corporate donors of all time. His Senate chief of staff Mark Buse, and a whole bunch of others have been AT&T lobbyists.
There's even more in the Post's exclusive story, it's worth checking out if you wanna find out how to get Verizon and AT&T to build personal cell towers at your house if your reception sucks (fair warning, it helps to be a presidential nominee though). [Washington Post]
Update: Verizon has issued a statement about the Washington Post story:
The Washington Post story regarding Verizon providing a cell tower to the McCain Ranch is wrong. Verizon received a request from Mrs. McCain, but declined. Subsequent to that, the Secret Service made a legitimate request for a temporary tower for its work and Verizon complied as is required by our contract with the agency. The Secret Service request, made on May 28, specifically said it needed the service urgently and requested that Verizon "explore every possible means of providing an alternative cellular or data communications source in the referenced area and provide any short term implementation of any type as a solution in the interim."