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Reid's Hand at the BBG

9:31 AM, Oct 22, 2007 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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A friend of the Campaign Standard writes in to let you know about a controversy brewing inside the Beltway:

On the same day that Rush Limbaugh raised millions for charity auctioning off a letter from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid smearing Limbaugh as 'unpatriotic,' the White House announced the nomination of Reid's closest political confidant to the prestigious board that runs international broadcasting.

Susan McCue, nominated Friday to the target=_blank>U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, left her long-time post as Reid's chief of staff last year to become CEO of the target=_blank>One Campaign, the AIDS relief and anti-poverty organization that is the darling of Hollywood. Announcing her new job, Reid said McCue had been "at the center of every major political and policy decision I've made on and off the Senate floor." He declared, "I know she will remain a close friend and adviser."

A common denominator between McCue and the White House is presidential pal Mark McKinnon, a leading member of One's board as well as an increasingly powerful member of the BBG.

McKinnon, a former left-wing Texas Democrat, became a friend of President Bush in the late '90s and handled advertising for the two Bush presidential campaigns. He heads a Washington-based consulting firm and has served as an official adviser to target=_blank>John McCain's presidential campaign. But Newsweek recently target=_blank>disclosed that McKinnon has informed friends that if Barack Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, he will leave the McCain campaign because he feels the Illinois Senator has 'a unique potential to change the country.'

I should interrupt here to note that the link above is actually to an article by Michael Tomasky on the Newsweek column, which seems to have disappeared from the Internet. Anyway, this friend continues below the fold:

Obama was one of 41 Senate Democrats who joined in signing the Reid letter to Clear Channel President Mark Mays, syndicator of the Limbaugh talk show. Limbaugh charged the Reid letter represents an 'abuse of power' - getting hold of the CEO of 'my syndication partner and asking him to "confer"' over words the Senate majority leader deemed 'improper.'

But Limbaugh's eBay auction of the letter proved to be a major embarrassment for Reid. The winning bid for the 'historic' letter was $2.1 million to go to the target=_blank>Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. Limbaugh is matching this contribution - and Limbaugh listeners by the thousands have added their own donations to the organization that provides scholarships to the children of fallen servicemen and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Washington insiders are puzzled that the White House chose to nominate Reid's closest confidant to the BBG at the height of the Limbaugh-Reid controversy - even though the nomination is for a Democratic seat on the board formerly held by Norman Pattiz. In recent years the White House has accepted the recommendation of the leading Senate Democrat for minority party seats on the BBG - unless there are partisan reasons not to do so. Certainly, the Reid letter should constitute a reason not to nominate a Reid confidant to this prestigious post.

This is a controversy worth paying attention to.