Sunday, August 31, 2008

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.

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