John McCain is being dragged into the feud between Boeing and the Air Force, reports AP. A firm headed by McCain's campaign finance chairman, Tom Loeffler, was paid $220,000 to lobby on behalf of the Airbus, the successful European rival to Boeing's 767 fuel tanker. McCain had helped block an earlier, flawed Boeing contract for the tanker, and sent letters to the Pentagon in 2006 urging them to change bidding procedures that Airbus said were anticompetitive.
The bidding procedures were changed several months later, and Airbus won the $35-billion contract. The McCain camp noted that the lobbying firm was hired only after the McCain letters. "I had nothing to do with the contract," he said. Boeing officials have condemned the contract process as "seriously flawed" and are appealing the decision."I urge you to go back and start over," a Republican lawmaker told the Air Force secretary in a congressional hearing yesterday. "You did not do this right."