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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson June 15, 2010

McCain accuses Hayworth of earning 'thousands' as a Washington lobbyist

Less than two years after losing the 2008 presidential election, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is embroiled in a tough Republican primary against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

In one recent TV ad, McCain attacks Hayworth for claiming to be an outsider.

The ad shows a limousine driving by a fancy building and then an unflattering black-and-white clip of Hayworth sharing the screen with an airborne corporate jet and floating paper money. "J.D. Hayworth says he's an outsider, but after he was voted out of Congress he became a registered lobbyist," the narrator intones. "Hayworth was paid thousands by a Florida corporation to lobby the very committee he used to serve on."

Featured Fact-check

We decided to check to see if this description is accurate.

First, the add is correct that Hayworth was voted out of office. He lost in the landslide of 2006 to his Democratic challenger, Harry Mitchell.

Now for the lobbying claim. By law, all registered lobbyists must periodically file disclosure forms with the U.S. House and Senate, and we were able to locate two filed by Hayworth. In February 2008, Hayworth filed a form serving notice that he would be a paid lobbyist for the Wealth Transfer Group, based in Altamonte Springs, Fla. A separate but related form filed two months later disclosed that Hayworth was paid $10,000 by his client.

The forms also say that Hayworth's subject areas for lobbying would be tax and copyright issues. The tax issue falls squarely within the jurisdiction of the House Ways and Means Committee, which used to count Hayworth among its members.

Based on contemporary news accounts, it's likely that the Wealth Transfer Group hired Hayworth to lobby against possible restrictions on patenting "tax reduction strategies." These are approaches to limiting one's tax liability that are so unique that they have been granted patents by the federal government. The Wealth Transfer Group owns -- and has defended in court -- a patent on a technique for limiting the tax liability on certain kinds of stock options. The company's website says that the company only works on estates exceeding $10 million.

In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants "wrote leaders of several congressional committees urging them to limit tax-strategy patents. These patents 'undermine the integrity, fairness and administration' of the tax system and are 'contrary to sound public policy,' the institute said."

The forms cited here were the only two related to Hayworth included in the congressional disclosure-form database, which is considered definitive. So the Wealth Transfer Group gig appears to have been his only lobbying job after leaving Congress. And in the grand scheme of Washington lobbying, having one client for a couple months that paid $10,000 is pretty small peanuts.

Still, these forms show enough information to make McCain's ad accurate. Hayworth was indeed a registered lobbyist, he worked for a Florida company, and he said he would be lobbying on tax issues, which meant targeting his old colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee. We rate McCain's ad True.

Our Sources

John McCain for Senate, "Washington Lobbyist" (television ad), June 7, 2010

U.S. Senate/U.S. House, lobbying report form for J.D. Hayworth, April 18, 2008

U.S. Senate/U.S. House, lobbyist registration form for J.D. Hayworth, Feb. 7, 2008

Wealth Transfer Group, company home page, accessed June 15, 2010

Dennis I. Belcher, testimony before the Committee on House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, July 13, 2006 (accessed via Lexis-Nexis)

Wall Street Journal, "Patents on Tax-Related Ideas Stir Worry," March 14, 2007

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McCain accuses Hayworth of earning 'thousands' as a Washington lobbyist

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