McCains Get Free Cell Towers at Ranch
Ethics lawyers cite his Senate post overseeing telecom industry
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2008 12:01 AM CDT
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks on a cell phone as he boards his charter campaign jet before departing Cincinnati, Ohio, Friday, June 27, 2008.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Verizon and AT&T provided portable cell phone towers to John McCain's Arizona ranch free of charge soon after he launched his presidential bid, the Washington Post reports. The companies say it's a unique situation—a modern candidate has to be plugged in, after all—but ethics lawyers say it's questionable because McCain is chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC and the telecom industry.

"It raises the aura of special consideration for somebody because he is a member of the Senate," said an ethics attorney who represents politicians of both parties. "Here is a guy who is campaigning as Mr. Maverick and Mr. Reformer and he keeps skirting the edge." Verizon also took up an expensive process on the McCains' behalf to look into a permanent tower, a plan that has since been scrapped. The McCain camp, which includes several people who have worked as lobbyists for the telecom companies, says no favoritism was involved.