“He was very unhappy with the censure and wanted to make sure it never happened again”
McCain is busy with two wars. He's fighting to help Muslim terrorists in Syria and to hurt conservatives in Arizona. And he's using some dubious methods to do it.
As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies...
The ambitious effort — detailed to POLITICO by nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends — has stretched from office buildings in Alexandria, Virginia, where strategists plotted and fundraisers collected cash for a super PAC, to Vietnamese-American communities across Arizona, where recruiters sought out supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.
If McCain had put in as much effort into running for president as he did in fighting conservatives, he would have been in the White House.
Until this year, however, McCain aides had never seriously considered a concerted effort to remake the state GOP apparatus, which has traditionally been dominated by his conservative antagonists. That changed after the January censure, which rapped the senator for having an insufficiently conservative record that was “harmful” to Arizona.
“He was very unhappy with the censure and wanted to make sure it never happened again,” said Mike Hellon, McCain’s deputy campaign manager in 2010.
In the days after the state party’s rebuke, a group of top McCain political hands, including Jon Seaton and Christian Ferry — who worked for McCain in his 2008 campaign and have remained with him since — hatched a plan to form a super PAC that would spend money to elect a more friendly slate of precinct committeemen.
The super PAC, which was based out of offices in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and Phoenix and given the generic name “Arizona Grassroots Action PAC,” raised nearly $300,000. The largest checks, according to contribution reports, came from Gregory Maffei, a Colorado businessman, and Gregory Wendt, a San Francisco-based financial adviser, both longtime McCain donors.
That's part of the story. Here's the rest of it.
Greg Wendt and Lisa Wendt of San Francisco, CA (generous benefactors of the Democrat Party and its candidates) gave over 40% of the funds for Grassroots Arizona; a PAC set up to target the Republican chairman of legislative district 11.
Greg and Lisa have been very generous to Democrats. Greg has donated to such people as Ron Wyden, Max Cleland, Barack Obama, Diane Feinstein, and Claire McCaskill, among many other Democrats.
This story dates back to 2006, because despite Politico's McCain puff piece, he's been at this for a while. Wendt's donations are on the unusual side. He donated to Obama's senate campaign and to Ted Cruz's senate campaign. He donated to Barbara Feinstein and Kelly Ayotte. He donated to Act Blue and Freedom First. And he is a steady McCain donor. Presumably there is some kind of interest there.
McCain's other big donor for remaking the Arizona GOP is also out of state. Greg Maffei is from Colorado and while he is a steadier Republican donor (though he also donated to Democrats like Maria Cantwell, Salazar and Jay Rockerfeller) and he's also a pal of Colorado gun control governor Hickenlooper.
And responsible for $100K of McCain's anti-Tea Party war chest. That was his biggest donation of the campaign cycle.
There's something obviously slimy about a powerful senator using out of state money to try and purge local critics in his own party. It's anti-democratic and exactly the kind of thing that McCain, who claimed to be for campaign finance reform, was expected to oppose.
Except he's been doing it for a while.
This is the problem with McCain. He's not only a liberal Republican, but he's vindictive and ethically challenged. He doesn't seem to represent Arizona. He represents a handful of wealthy out of state donors trying to manufacture voters still willing to blindly pull the lever for him.
Out in Arizona, the McCain forces, led by Seaton, set out to find would-be candidates for the precinct committee positions, many of them citizens with little or no political experience. They conferred with the establishment-aligned Chamber of Commerce and held recruitment house parties.
They also found a well of interest among Vietnamese-Americans, a small but politically active community which has long treated McCain, a Vietnam veteran who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war, as an ally; as a senator, he’s taken up the cause of the country’s refugees. More than 50 individuals of Vietnamese descent signed up to run for the precinct slots, and won.
One of the victors was Kevin Dang, the president of the Vietnamese Community of Arizona. Vietnamese-Americans had been motivated to run, Dang said, because of the attacks against McCain, which the community regarded as “disgraceful and discreditable.”
So they're basically McCain's Diem regime. Looks like he hasn't learned anything from history.