Accountability

Published — May 14, 2008 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

McCain’s friends

Revelations about McCain’s advisers’ ties to shady regimes were noted by the Center in 1992

Introduction

While Republican John McCain has severed ties with two campaign advisers who lobbied for the military junta in Myanmar, connections between his staffers and oppressive foreign regimes still exist and date back more than a decade.

Charlie Black, whose lobbying firm represented human rights abusers in the Philippines and Nigeria, continues to serve McCain as a senior adviser. Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, and Paul Manafort, a Republican strategist, are co-owners of Davis Manafort Inc., a public relations firm that, according to The Wall Street Journal, worked for a Ukrainian political party backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The Center for Public Integrity’s 1992 report, “The Torturers’ Lobby,” reveals that Black and Manafort have a long history of lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, taking in millions of dollars in hefty fees from the torturers, human rights abusers, and tyrants they called clients. In 1991 and 1992 alone, the firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly Public Affairs Co. collected more than $3 million for representing Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines, and Angola’s UNITA rebel group, headed by Jonas Savimbi, who allegedly tortured and murdered his enemies.

A spokesman for the firm told the Center at the time that the firm tried “to open a dialogue” when it came to human rights issues, but that Black himself did not advise foreign clients.

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