Sunday, August 31, 2008

Keating 5 from Slate

The Keating 5 explanation from Slate. - Allan

http://www.slate.com/id/1004633/

Is John McCain a Crook?
Chris Suellentrop
Posted Friday, Feb. 18, 2000, at 2:35 PM ET

The controversial George W. Bush-sponsored poll in South Carolina mentioned John McCain's role in the so-called Keating Five scandal, and McCain says his involvement in the scandal "will probably be on my tombstone." What exactly did McCain do?

In early 1987, at the beginning of his first Senate term, McCain attended two meetings with federal banking regulators to discuss an investigation into Lincoln Savings and Loan, an Irvine, Calif., thrift owned by Arizona developer Charles Keating. Federal auditors were investigating Keating's banking practices, and Keating, fearful that the government would seize his S&L, sought intervention from a number of U.S. senators.

At Keating's behest, four senators--McCain and Democrats Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Alan Cranston of California, and John Glenn of Ohio--met with Ed Gray, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, on April 2. Those four senators and Sen. Don Riegle, D-Mich., attended a second meeting at Keating's behest on April 9 with bank regulators in San Francisco.

Regulators did not seize Lincoln Savings and Loan until two years later. The Lincoln bailout cost taxpayers $2.6 billion, making it the biggest of the S&L scandals. In addition, 17,000 Lincoln investors lost $190 million.

In November 1990, the Senate Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the meetings between the senators and the regulators. McCain, Cranston, DeConcini, Glenn, and Riegle became known as the Keating Five.

(Keating himself was convicted in January 1993 of 73 counts of wire and bankruptcy fraud and served more than four years in prison before his conviction was overturned. Last year, he pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud and was sentenced to time served.)

McCain defended his attendance at the meetings by saying Keating was a constituent and that Keating's development company, American Continental Corporation, was a major Arizona employer. McCain said he wanted to know only whether Keating was being treated fairly and that he had not tried to influence the regulators. At the second meeting, McCain told the regulators, "I wouldn't want any special favors for them," and "I don't want any part of our conversation to be improper."

But Keating was more than a constituent to McCain--he was a longtime friend and associate. McCain met Keating in 1981 at a Navy League dinner in Arizona where McCain was the speaker. Keating was a former naval aviator himself, and the two men became friends. Keating raised money for McCain's two congressional campaigns in 1982 and 1984, and for McCain's 1986 Senate bid. By 1987, McCain campaigns had received $112,000 from Keating, his relatives, and his employees--the most received by any of the Keating Five. (Keating raised a total of $300,000 for the five senators.)

After McCain's election to the House in 1982, he and his family made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, three of which were to Keating's Bahamas retreat. McCain did not disclose the trips (as he was required to under House rules) until the scandal broke in 1989. At that point, he paid Keating $13,433 for the flights.

And in April 1986, one year before the meeting with the regulators, McCain's wife, Cindy, and her father invested $359,100 in a Keating strip mall.

The Senate Ethics Committee probe of the Keating Five began in November 1990, and committee Special Counsel Robert Bennett recommended that McCain and Glenn be dropped from the investigation. They were not. McCain believes Democrats on the committee blocked Bennett's recommendation because he was the lone Keating Five Republican.

In February 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee found McCain and Glenn to be the least blameworthy of the five senators. (McCain and Glenn attended the meetings but did nothing else to influence the regulators.) McCain was guilty of nothing more than "poor judgment," the committee said, and declared his actions were not "improper nor attended with gross negligence." McCain considered the committee's judgment to be "full exoneration," and he contributed $112,000 (the amount raised for him by Keating) to the U.S. Treasury.

Keating Five From NRO

Keating 5 has not yet been talked about enough. John McCain was one of the 5 and deserves honourable mention. - Allan



Remember the Keating Five?
McCain’s own standards would have hung him.
by Mark Levin

For too long, McCain has been given a free pass by the media, which promotes campaign-finance reform to silence other voices, and by his Republican colleagues, who are concerned about alienating McCain given the GOP's tenuous majority in the Senate.

In John McCain's America, any politician who accepts a large contribution or gift from a donor, and then takes steps consistent with the donor's interests — even though there is no legal quid pro quo — is corrupt. Well, then, by his own standard, McCain is corrupt.

McCain was one of the so-called "Keating Five" senators. He was investigated by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics in 1991 regarding the acceptance of favors from Lincoln Savings & Loan Association (Lincoln) and its owner, Charles H. Keating, Jr. Simply put, the issue was whether McCain and the other senators used their official positions to attempt to pressure Federal Home Loan Bank Board officials to go easy on the troubled institution. Eventually Lincoln went bust, costing depositors and taxpayers millions.

In its final report (November 20, 1991), here is what the Senate Select Committee on Ethics concluded about McCain's conduct:

"Mr. Keating, his associates, and his friends contributed $56,000 for Senator McCain's two House races in 1982 and 1984, and $54,000 for his 1986 Senate race. Mr. Keating also provided his corporate plane and/or arranged for payment for the use of commercial or private aircraft on several occasions for travel by Senator McCain and his family, for which Senator McCain ultimately provided reimbursement when called upon to do so. Mr. Keating also allowed Senator McCain and his family to vacation with Mr. Keating and his family, at a home provided by Mr. Keating in the Bahamas, in each of the calendar years 1983 through 1986.

"…[F]rom 1984 to 1987, Senator McCain took actions on Mr. Keating's behalf or at his request. The Committee finds that Senator McCain had a basis for each of these actions independent of the contributions and benefits he received from Mr. Keating, his associates and friends.

"Based on the evidence available to it, the Committee has given consideration to Senator McCain's actions on behalf of Lincoln. The Committee concludes that, given the personal benefits and campaign contributions he had received from Mr. Keating, Senator McCain exercised poor judgment in intervening with the regulators without first inquiring as to the Bank Board's position in the case in a more routine manner. The Committee concludes that Senator McCain's actions were not improper nor attended with gross negligence and did not reach the level of requiring institutional action against him. The Committee finds that Senator McCain took no further action after the April 9, 1987 meeting when he learned of a criminal referral.

"The Committee reaffirms its prior decision that it does not have jurisdiction to determine the issues of disclosure or reimbursement pertaining to flights provided by American Continental Corporation while Senator McCain was a Member of the House of Representatives. The Committee did consider the effect of such on his state of mind and judgment in taking steps to assist Lincoln.

"Senator McCain has violated no law of the United States or specific Rule of the United States Senate; therefore, the Committee concludes that no further action is warranted with respect to Senator McCain on the matters investigated during the preliminary inquiry."

McCain was the only Republican implicated in the Keating Five scandal, yet today he lectures his party and his president about "the corrupting influence" of money in politics. He rails against the so-called "wealthy special interests" and their ability to buy access to elected officials, yet this is precisely what the Keating Five scandal was all about. And, of course, under McCain's current standard, a politician who takes a principled position that may benefit a donor is corrupt, even if no law has been violated.

The John McCain of old should be thankful that his political fate wasn't determined by John McCain the reformer.

http://www.nationalreview.com/contributors/levin040501.shtml

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Time For Some Campaigning

A good video. The song is refrained "It's time for some campaigning." As the email sent to me about this suggested - It can be appreciated no matter who a person supports for US President. It's funny. - Allan


http://www.peteyandpetunia.com/VoteHere/VoteHere.htm

Friday, August 15, 2008

Speed Cameras in Illinois

Speed cameras are being talked about as ways to further tax people. No one is talking about reducing government spending in response to this idea, instead of worrying about this BigBrotherish way of making extra revenue. - Allan

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/24/2496.asp

Illinois Plans $50 Million in Statewide Speed Camera Profit
Illinois governor unveils proposal to line every freeway in the state with speed cameras, generating $50 million in annual revenue.

Governor Rod R. BlagojevichIllinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich (D) held a news conference yesterday announcing his plan to expand dramatically the state's existing freeway speed camera program. Since May 2006, photo ticketing vans operated by Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) have mailed photo tickets from highway construction zones. These tickets carry points, automatic license suspensions and fines of $375 and $1000 for the first and second offense, respectively. Blagojevich wants to start with at least one hundred new cameras spread out on every interstate highway outside the work zones so that the system can raise $50 million in annual profit.

"This initiative to have speed enforcement cameras is predicated on a two-prong reality," Blagojevich explained. "We want to make our highways safer and then from the revenue we generate from this to hire more police officers, more state troopers."

The state legislature would have to approve Blagojevich's proposal for $100 freeway photo ticket that do not carry points or require photographs of the driver. These changes would boost both the volume of citations issued and the net revenue, allowing the state to hire 500 new Illinois State Police troopers who, in turn, would issue even more speeding tickets. Ten new state police "elite tactical teams" would focus, among other things, on "traffic activity."

In the past few years, Illinois has steadily increased its dependence on photo enforcement revenue. Chicago, for example, has generated $72 million in revenue since 2003 from 69 red light cameras. The city recently announced a plan to boost the number to 290. Likewise, at least 83 local communities rushed to install or land a contract to install automated ticketing machines after the legislature granted permission to certain regions of the state.

Speed Cameras in Hungary

Speed cameras are becoming a popular way of further taxing people in Illinois, and evidently in Hungary too. - Allan


8/2/2008
Hungary: Speed Camera Trap Use Live Cops to Catch Foreigners
New speed camera system in Hungary uses live police to collect on-the-spot cash from tourists.

Hungary M1 cameraOfficials in Hungary are combining live police officers and automated speed camera traps in an unusual way. In most countries, speed cameras are used to minimize or eliminate entirely any human involvement in the process of collecting million in fine revenue. Motorists accused by machine are normally sent a photograph and bill in the mail and must pay or face a license suspension. In Hungary, however, that procedure fails to capture revenue from motorists who hold a license from another country, particularly tourists crossing over on the M1 Highway near the border with Austria.

Havaria Press reported that officials last month upgraded four speed cameras on the M1 Highway so that they would send automated alerts to a central command post with the identity of vehicles allegedly exceeding the speed limit. Real police officers would then be dispatched to pull over and demand on-the-spot cash payment from these tourists based on the license plate number and the machine's accusation.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008