Top McCain aide tied to Saddam lobbying

TOP MCCAIN AIDE TIED TO SADDAM LOBBYING…. Hmm. I wonder what the response would be from the political world in general, and Republicans in specific, if a top Obama campaign aide was associated with lobbying on behalf of Saddam Hussein.

Except, as Murray Waas reports today, we’re talking about a McCain campaign aide.

William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.

The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein’s government.

During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.

Timmons’ activities occurred in the years following the first Gulf War, when Washington considered Iraq to be a rogue enemy state and a sponsor of terrorism.

I thought it was odd that McCain tapped Freedie Mac’s lobbyist to head his transition team, but that was before we learned about the Saddam Hussein associations.

Waas reports that Timmons has argued that he didn’t know about that either Vincent or Park were acting on Saddam’s behalf, but there’s reason to be skeptical about the veracity of the claim.

Waas has the whole story. Take a look.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.