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Ralph Reed Doesn't Want A Job On McCain's Campaign

UPDATE: Associated Press reports that McCain raised $1.75 million at the Atlanta fundraiser. Just before the event began, Reed's spokeswoman said he was planning to attend "as far as I know." But he apparently did not.

So says the consultant/lobbyist/former director of the Christian Coalition. But he did send out an email soliciting contributions of $2,300 to $20,000 for a McCain presidential fundraiser this evening in Atlanta.

This wouldn't be so surprising if it weren't for the backstory on McCain and Reed.

When McCain first ran for president in the 2000 Republican primaries, Christian conservative leaders did their best to sink him. It was the kind of campaign that's run completely off-the-books. McCain, outraged, called them agents of intolerance.

McCain spent the next few years passing a big campaign finance reform bill. Then he began investigating lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who later pleaded guilty to defrauding Indian tribes out of millions of dollars in lobby and consulting fees. For some of those projects, Abramoff hired Reed, who had left the Christian Coalition and needed business for his new consulting firm.

In 2005, McCain held a hearing that delved into the Reed connections — but he didn't call Reed to testify.

Still, things got worse for Reed. It turned out he'd gone on a golfing junket to Scotland in 2002. It involved a private jet and hundred-dollar rounds of Scotch, and Abramoff underwrote the whole thing. Of the eight men on the trip (Abramoff brought his son along too), only Reed and two others have escaped prosecution.

In 2006, the whole Abramoff scandal was still so fresh that it cost Reed a shot at running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.

Now, of course, things are different. McCain needs the evangelical vote, and conservatives like Reed need McCain if they're going to hang on to the White House.

And that gets you to Reed's Aug. 7 email, thoughtfully posted by Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the email, Reed recites the usual litany about Barack Obama (higher taxes, etc.) and about McCain (strong defense, etc.), and says, "Your participation is critical to success" — that is, to electing McCain, his old nemesis, as the next president.

And in a statement issued today, he says he doesn't have a role in McCain's campaign organization "and am not seeking one."