Ralph Reed, the Jack Abramoff-tainted GOP operative and former head of the Christian Coalition, is cozying up to John McCain, and the Arizona senator doesn't have a problem associating with this character -- as long as the buxx flow into his campaign coffers from a fundraiser to be held in Atlanta next week. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW):

On Thursday afternoon, Republicans around Georgia received an invitation from Reed, who will serve as a host of a “special event” for McCain at the downtown Marriot Marquis on Aug. 18.

“John McCain believes in a strong national defense, a smaller, more accountable government, steady economic growth and opportunity, the dignity of life and traditional values,” wrote Reed, whose 2006 campaign for lieutenant governor sank under the weight of evidence detailing his relationship with Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff — much of it uncovered by McCain’s Indian Affairs Committee.

John McCain may want to review the 66 pages of correspondence between Mr. Reed and convicted felon, Jack Abramoff, which was obtained by his committee. Those emails between Reed and Abramoff are posted at governmentdocs.org.

Reed has also agreed to serve as a member of the McCain Victory 2008 team. He also still has his talons deep into the fundie infrastructure, so it's clear McCain still longs for the Base of the party.

“[Reed’s] hypocrisy is legion — now matched only by John McCain’s attending a fundraiser he’s helping host,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director. “You just have to wonder who’s the bigger hypocrite.”

...John Feehery, a former House GOP communications strategist who has bemoaned Abramoff’s corrupting influence on the party, said Reed maintains strong ties to Christian conservatives, a key GOP demographic McCain needs to attract. For instance, in the Indian Affairs Committee’s Abramoff report, Reed boasts of having contact information for 3,000 pastors and 90,000 religious conservative households in Alabama alone.

McCain has so far refused to cancel the fundraiser.