Wednesday, October 15, 2008 Verizon and AT&T provided free cell towers to the McCain ranch, and admit it's because he's running for president makeprofilelink("John Aravosis (DC)"); John Aravosis (DC) · 10/15/2008 04:56:00 PM ET · Link</B> 33 Comments · reddit · FARK · Digg It! · Stumble It! For free? Move over Ted Stevens, John McCain is up to bat! This isn't funny. That would be an illegal corporate contribution to the McCain campaign. And it's bribery of a sitting US Senator. Especially after AT&T admits that this is why they gave McCain the free goods - BECAUSE he's running for president. Are they mad? John McCain wasn't the Republican candidate yet - and even if he were, corporations can't donate free favors to his campaign - McCain was one of the many men running for the GOP nomination. (And did AT&T and Verizon offer these donations to other presidential candidates - I'll bet lots of candidates don't get good cell coverage at one of their 12 homes.) McCain was a nobody, campaign-wise - how does his being simply a candidate justify AT&T and Verizon giving him a huge illegal bribe? Are AT&T and Verizon stupid? No, they're very smart in fact. John McCain chaired the committee of jurisdiction, and now is one of the top Republicans, on their issues. So a bribe made a lot of sense, albeit completely criminal sense. Oh, and guess what else? McCain's senior staff in his personal office and campaign have worked as hired lobbyists for AT&T and Verizon. Surprise! From the Washington Post:Early in 2007, just as her husband launched his presidential bid, Cindy McCain decided to resolve an old problem -- the lack of cellular telephone coverage on her remote 15-acre ranch near Sedona, nestled deep in a tree-lined canyon called Hidden Valley. By the time Sen. John McCain's presidential bid was in full swing this summer, the ranch had wireless coverage from the two cellular companies most often used by campaign staff -- Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Verizon delivered a portable tower know as a "cell site on wheels" -- free of charge -- to Cindy McCain's property in June in response to an online request from Cindy McCain's staff early last year. Such devices are usually reserved for restoring service when cell coverage is knocked out during emergencies, such as hurricanes. In July, AT&T followed suit, wheeling in a portable tower for free to match Verizon's offer. "This is an unusual situation," said AT&T spokeswoman Claudia B. Jones. "You can't have a presidential nominee in an area where there is not cell coverage." Over the course of the past year, Cindy McCain had offered land for a permanent cell tower and Verizon embarked on an expensive process to meet her needs, hiring contractors and seeking county land-use permits even though few people other than the McCains would benefit from the tower. Ethics lawyers said Cindy McCain's dealings with the wireless companies stand out because Sen. John McCain is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. He has been a leading advocate for industry-backed legislation, fighting regulations and taxes on telecommunications services. McCain and his campaign have close ties to Verizon and AT&T. Five campaign officials, including campaign manager Rick Davis, have worked as lobbyists for Verizon. Former McCain staffer Robert Fisher is an in-house lobbyist for Verizon and is volunteering for the campaign. Fisher, Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg and company lobbyists have raised more than $1.3 million for McCain's presidential campaign and Verizon employees are among the top 20 corporate donors over McCain's political career, giving more than $155,000 to his campaigns. McCain's Senate chief of staff Mark Buse, senior strategist Charles R. Black Jr., and several other campaign staffers have registered as AT&T lobbyists in the past. AT&T Executive Vice President Timothy McKone and AT&T lobbyists have raised more than $2.3 million for McCain. AT&T employees have donated more than $325,000 to McCain campaigns, putting the company in the No. 3 spot for career donations to McCain, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.