Two top aides to the Republican presidential nominee John McCain have been forced to resign over their ties to the Burmese military junta, providing yet another embarrassment for Mr McCain who is trying to present himself as the scourge of special interests in Washington.
Douglas Goodyear, who had been chosen to run the 2008 Republican convention, said he was resigning "so as not to become a distraction in this campaign" after it was revealed he was connected to a lobbying firm that has represented Burma's military leaders.
Newsweek reported at the weekend that the DCI Group, a lobbying firm, represented Burma until last year. Mr Goodyear, its chief executive, "was paid $348,000 in 2002 to represent Burma's military junta, which had been strongly condemned by the State Department for its human-rights record and remains in power today," the magazine said.
Mr Goodyear had been given the important task of running the Republican convention in Minneapolis this summer and the controversy threatened to highlight the role of lobbyists in Mr McCain's campaign.
While Mr McCain publicly portrays himself as a crusader against special interests, many of his closest advisers are former or current lobbyists. Doug Davenport, another McCain aide and former DCI chief executive, has also quit.
The legendary Washington operative Charlie Black, who is Mr McCain's campaign chief, recently resigned from his lobbying firm. Mr Black was chairman of BKSH Worldwide, a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller which is run by Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's former chief strategist, who resigned after another lobbyist controversy.
The McCain campaign links between DCI and Burma and the Republicans were first reported in Harper's magazine some months ago, but it became a toxic issue after the Burmese government mishandled relief efforts after the disastrous cyclone nine days ago.
Today Mr McCain's campaign website carries a strong condemnation of the military junta in Burma.