August 20, 2008
In the wake of John McCain's forceful rebuke of Russia for sending invading forces into Georgia, scrutiny has been placed on the role McCain's chief foreign policy guru, Randy Scheunemann, played lobbying on behalf of the former Soviet country.
Asked whether Scheunemann's financial ties have influenced his hard anti-Russian stance, McCain deployed a curious form of political self-defense. I am pleased, he told USA Today, to have friends "who also believe in freedom and democracy." Earlier, McCain spokeswoman Nichole Wallace took an even more grandiose approach, declaring of Scheunemann: "We're proud of anyone who has worked on the side of angels in fledgling democracies."
Then there is Charles Ryan, the CEO of Deutsche Bank Russia. A member of the Senator's London Finance Committee, Ryan co-hosted a $25,000-per-head fundraiser with Cindy McCain in late June of this year. He is also a major backer of Vladimir Putin. In July 2006, Ryan penned an International Herald Tribune op-ed assuaging concerns over the then-prime minister. Years earlier, he said the Kremlin wasn't too powerful but rather too weak. When Putin left office, Ryan called him a patriot and said only minor changes were needed for the country.