THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Lobbyist says he never met McCain about TV sale delay

Accounts differ on discussions

Senator McCain has denied he did anything improper. Senator McCain has denied he did anything improper.
Email|Print| Text size + By Liz Sidoti
Associated Press / February 24, 2008

WASHINGTON - A former Paxson Communications president said yesterday that he never met with John McCain about the Arizona senator writing letters to the Federal Communications Commission regarding the regulatory delay of a Pittsburgh TV station sale.

Dean Goodman, who was in charge of the company's lobbying efforts in 1999, told the Associated Press that he also doubts that chief executive Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson met with McCain over the issue and said he doesn't recall such a meeting.

McCain's presidential campaign said the Arizona senator and then-chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, before sending the letters, which have drawn controversy in recent days.

But Paxson told The Washington Post in a story published yesterday that he and "probably" Iseman met with McCain on the matter several weeks before the senator sent the letters.

Goodman, who left the company a year and a half ago, took issue with that account in a telephone interview from West Palm Beach, Fla.

"I never met with or discussed this with Senator McCain," Goodman said. "I don't recall Bud meeting with McCain. It would be extremely rare that there would be a meeting that I didn't attend, and I can tell you that I didn't have a meeting with McCain on this issue."

"Whether Bud discussed it with him or not, via some other mechanism, I can't rule it out," Goodman added. But, he said, "I don't think there was a meeting."

Efforts to reach Paxson and Iseman were not successful.

McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee who routinely rails against the influence of lobbyists and special interests, was forced to address suggestions Thursday in news reports that he had an inappropriate relationship with Iseman and advanced the interests of her clients, including Paxson Communications. McCain has denied he did anything improper.

Among the issues raised in The New York Times and the Post were two letters McCain wrote in late 1999 to the FCC on behalf of Florida-based Paxson Communications - which had paid Iseman as its lobbyist - urging quick consideration of a proposal to buy a television station license in Pittsburgh.

At the time, Paxson was also a contributor to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.

McCain did not urge the FCC commissioners to approve the proposal, but he asked for speedy consideration of the deal, which was pending from two years earlier. In an unusual response, then-FCC Chairman William Kennard complained that McCain's request "comes at a sensitive time in the deliberative process" and "could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission's deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties."

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