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McCain Mug Brouhaha Hits eBay, Martin Agency 

click to enlarge street25_coffee_200.jpg

An advertising executive for the Martin Agency took Sen. John McCain's barely sipped coffee mug during his campaign stop here last week and put it on eBay. Now the Shockoe Slip coffee shop claims that it got mugged.

Martin exec Rye Clifton happened by the agency's neighbor, Shockoe Espresso and Roastery, when McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, made a brief appearance with his wife before a fundraiser June 9. McCain barely sipped his coffee, left a $20 tip and departed. Clifton shook the senator's hand and nabbed the mug.

The cup sat on Clifton's desk for much of last week, grew a snow cap of coffee scum and geological rings of dried residue as the liquid receded.
Things quickly turned political.

"Is McCain too good for Richmond coffee or is Richmond coffee too good for McCain?" Clifton and two other advertising execs with the Martin Agency posed in an appeal to eBay bidders. The three Martineers -- Clifton, Todd Brusnighan and Daniela Montanez -- pledged to donate most of the profits to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's campaign. They also offered to ship it to the buyer in congealed form (gelatin, dry ice) or as a liquid in a thermos.

It sold June 15 for $213.61.

The mug's authenticity is "as well documented as it could have been," Clifton says, though that may prove inconvenient. A source close to the coffee shop says an attorney for Shockoe Espresso has alerted eBay that the "mug of lies," as the Martineers refer to it, is stolen property.

Clifton says he's been banned from the coffee shop. But he's trying to make amends. Monday he dispatched a friend to purchase a Shockoe Espresso mug and leave it on a cafAŸ’'A-- A.B.

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