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My friends (are lobbyists), my friends. | FEC: Nope.

While the NYT’s botched bombshell involving Maverick and Iseman has thus far only seemed to help Sen. McCain to make nice with his unreconstructed right flank, the WP posts an A1 follow-up showing how the story may bite McCain yet. To wit, his campaign is completely dominated by lobbyists. “[W]hen McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried.

Meanwhile, concerning the “other” McCain scandal at the moment, the Republican head of the FEC, David Mason, comes down against McCain’s attempted gaming of the public financing system, and argues he can’t duck out of public financing now. “‘This is serious,’ agreed Republican election lawyer Jan Baran. Ignoring the matter on the grounds that the FEC lacks a quorum, Baran said, ‘is like saying you’re going to break into houses because the sheriff is out of town.’

Update: Newsweek‘s Mike Isikoff, one of the also-rans for the Iseman scoop, pokes a hole in McCain’s denial. Regarding the Paxson letters to the FCC, McCain said yesterday that ““No representative of Paxson or Alcalde & Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC.” The problem? This contradicts a sworn deposition by McCain taken in 2002, when McCain said: “I was contacted by Mr. Paxson on this issue.” D’oh!

Update 2: Now, Paxson says he met with the Senator, despite McCain’s statement to the contrary. “Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, attended the meeting in McCain’s office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting. ‘Was Vicki there? Probably,’ Paxson said in an interview with The Washington Post today. ‘The woman was a professional. She was good. She could get us meetings.’

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