Flimsy allegations of hanky-panky aside, the probing into Sen. John McCain's background and associates is continuing, and it's starting to go to the heart of his claim for being above reproach. He clearly swims in a sea of lobbyists for large corporations, even if he also can be the lonely foe of some corporations such as Boeing. Also, the corrupt Arizona milieu is also starting to catch up with him. The Arizona story took a turn with the indictment of Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi, who also happens to be the honorary co-chair of McCain's Arizona presidential campaign. McCain was quoted as saying he expected Renzi to leave that post: "He's obviously going to be very busy," was his only comment. Renzi was charged in a 35-count grand jury indictment with pressuring people to buy land in connection with federal land swaps, with Renzi allegedly getting kickbacks and providing favorable legislation. The story has two interesting angles, aside from the brazen nature of the alleged extortion. One element is that the U.S. attorney overseeing the original investigation, Paul Charlton, was one of those dismissed by the Justice Department in its infamous eight-attorney purge in 2006. A second element of political salience is that the Wall Street Journal first broke this story last April and is likely to lead the charge in coverage. That could further weaken McCain and help take some of the pressure off The New York Times for supposedly being part of a liberal media assault on McCain. The more damaging story is coming from reporting by The Washington Post which has been tallying up the number of lobbyists in key positions in the McCain campaign, serving without pay. Their reporting confirms the key allegation in the Times' story, that McCain seems unaware of the implications of such conflicts, convinced that his integrity shields him from ever acting to benefit these pals. Consider these key McCain campaign figures, and the firms they lobby for either now or in the recent past: Rick Davis, campaign manager: Verizon, SBC Telecommunications. Charles Black, chief political adviser: Alcoa, US Airways, General Motors, United Technologies, JP Morgan, AT&T. Mark Buse, Senate chief of staff: Goldman Sachs, Cablevision, Tenneco, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Former Rep. Tom Loeffer, top fundraising official: Saudi Arabia, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Toyota, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. To be fair, other candidates also use lobbyists in their campaigns. Hillary Clinton has two topsiders, Harold Ickes and Mark Penn, who are lobbyists, and Penn even heads Burson Marsteller Worldwide, a powerful firm with Microsoft as a client. Barack Obama has been advised by former Sen. Tom Daschle, who advises corporate clients. But McCain by contrast is off the charts. Public Citizen reports that McCain had at least 59 registered federal lobbyists raising money for his campaign, compared with 19 for Clinton. All this suggests that another element of the case against George Bush, his extreme friendliness to corporate America, might emerge as a key campaign issue. McCain already risks carrying the Bush albatross on Iraq and tax cuts. It's hard to imagine that his protestations of innocence and incorruptibility will be enough to reassure many independent voters that it's okay that he can be surrounded at his highest staff level by lobbyists of powerful corporations. It certainly won't help him to charge Obama with being naive. Speaking of Obama, there's an interesting Boeing angle in all this. McCain has been a powerful foe of Boeing, shooting down its contract to lease tankers to the Air Force, and continuing to bedevil Boeing in its hopes for a $40 billion contract to build 179 tankers. The original deal for Boeing was put together by Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Ted Stevens, the powerful Alaska Republican. McCain asked tough questions, and the whole thing exploded in Boeing's face, leading to the resignations of two Boeing CEOs. The Obama angle is this: his home state is Illinois, where Boeing has its headquarters. Furthermore, two key Boeing supporters for the new contract are Norm Dicks in the House and Murray in the Senate, both of whom are supporting Clinton (herself a powerful figure on Defense issues). In an Obama-McCain contest, Washington state would have a powerful economic stake in defeating McCain.