John McCain Still Living The Keating Five Lush Highlife

John McCain was never the principled steadfast man his false front public image painted him to be; although it is true that he really has been in a downward spiral of dishonor and deception during this year’s campaign. Even many of his staunchest supporters in major media are starting to realize the brutal truth for what it is. Joe Klein, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews, a host of journalists at ABC, Andrew Sullivan … each day brings a familiar voice admitting that they can no longer harmonize the McCain persona with the truth in front of them. Thank you to each and every one of them, and welcome to my world. As a native Arizonan I have been witnessing what you are now realizing since John McCain plopped his carpet bag down and set up shop here in our state.

John Sidney McCain III would have you believe his Charlie Keating Five Scandal days of corruption and influence peddling are all a thing of his distant past and that he is some sort of legendary reformer now. Nothing could be further from the truth, he is still hard deeply entrenched in the lavish, exotic trappings of swag and influence peddled by the modern day equivalents of Charlie Keating.

In fact, new reporting by Ari Berman and Mark Ames of The Nation, in their article The McCain-Follieri Love Boat, which just hit the presses at the end of last week details how McCain has spent yet another birthday, his 70th, vacationing with a criminal con artist, Hollywood celebrities and big money lobbyists on a yacht in Montenegro. It shows what Arizonans have known all along: McCain is still the same old glad handing, do anything to serve his own raw ambition, politician who celebrated his birthdays with Charlie Keating and other power brokers at Keating’s private Bahamas resort two decades ago.

Before we delve into the recent foray of John Sidney McCain III into political influence swag land, a refresher on McCain’s malfeasance in the Keating Five Savings & Loan Scandal is in order. From a Keating Five Scandal retrospective by The Arizona Republic:

McCain already knew Keating well. His ties to the home builder dated to 1981, when the two men met at a Navy League dinner where McCain spoke.

After the speech, Keating walked up to McCain and told him that he, too, was a Navy flier and that he greatly respected McCain’s war record. He met McCain’s wife and family. The two men became friends.

Charlie Keating always took care of his friends, especially those in politics. McCain was no exception.

In 1982, during McCain’s first run for the House, Keating held a fund-raiser for him, collecting more than $11,000 from 40 employees of American Continental Corp. McCain would spend more than $550,000 to win the primary and the general election.

In 1983, as McCain contemplated his House re-election, Keating hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for him, even though McCain had no serious competition. When McCain pushed for the Senate in 1986, Keating was there with more than $50,000.

By 1987, McCain had received about $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates.

McCain also had carried a little water for Keating in Washington. While in the House, McCain, along with a majority of representatives, co-sponsored a resolution to delay new regulations designed to curb risky investments by thrifts such as Lincoln.

The first meeting, on April 2, 1987, in DeConcini’s office, included Ed Gray, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, as well as four senators: DeConcini, McCain, Alan Cranston, D-Calif., and John Glenn, D-Ohio.

(Years later, McCain recalled that DeConcini started the meeting with a reference to "our friend at Lincoln." McCain characterized it as "an unfortunate choice of words, which Gray would remember and repeat publicly many times.")

For Keating, the meeting was a bust. Gray told the senators that as head of the loan board, he worried about the big picture. He didn’t have any specific information about Lincoln. Bank regulators in San Francisco would be versed in that, not him. Gray offered to set up a meeting between the senators and the San Francisco regulators.

The second meeting was April 9. The same four senators attended, along with Sen. Don Riegle, D-Mich. Also at the meeting were William Black, then deputy director of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., James Cirona, president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and Michael Patriarca, director of agency functions at the FSLIC.

In an interview with The Republic, Black said the meeting was a show of force by Keating, who wanted the senators to pressure the regulators into dropping their case against Lincoln. The thrift was in trouble for violating "direct investment" rules, which prohibited S&Ls from taking large ownership positions in various ventures.

According to nearly verbatim notes taken by Black, McCain started the second meeting with a careful comment.

"One of our jobs as elected officials is to help constituents in a proper fashion," McCain said. "ACC (American Continental Corp.) is a big employer and important to the local economy. I wouldn’t want any special favors for them – "I don’t want any part of our conversation to be improper."

Black said the comment had the opposite effect for the regulators. It made them nervous about what might really be going on.

"McCain was the weirdest," Black said. "They were all different in their own way. McCain was always Hamlet . . . wringing his hands about what to do."

Keating’s businesses continued to spiral downward, taking the five senators with him. Together, the five had accepted more than $300,000 in contributions from Keating, and their critics added a new term to the American lexicon: "The Keating Five."

The Keating Five became synonymous for the kind of political influence that money can buy. As the S&L failure deepened, the sheer magnitude of the losses hit the press. Billions of dollars had been squandered. The five senators were linked as the gang who shilled for an S&L bandit.

S&L "trading cards" came out. The Keating Five card showed Charles Keating holding up his hand, with a senator’s head adorning each finger. McCain was on Keating’s pinkie.

Keating was no ordinary constituent to McCain.

On Oct. 8, 1989, The Arizona Republic revealed that McCain’s wife and her father had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators.

The paper also reported that the McCains, sometimes accompanied by their daughter and baby-sitter, had made at least nine trips at Keating’s expense, sometimes aboard the American Continental jet. Three of the trips were made during vacations to Keating’s opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay.

McCain also did not pay Keating for some of the trips until years after they were taken, after he learned that Keating was in trouble over Lincoln. Total cost: $13,433.

When the story broke, McCain did nothing to help himself.

"You’re a liar," McCain said when a Republic reporter asked him about the business relationship between his wife and Keating.

"That’s the spouse’s involvement, you idiot," McCain said later in the same conversation. "You do understand English, don’t you?"

He also belittled reporters when they asked about his wife’s ties to Keating.

The stench and taint is on not just the Senate, but Congress and the Federal government as a whole. The destruction of so many people, their life savings, and the national treasury for the bailout of the savings and loan industry caused by a powerful group of greedy and opportunistic businessmen and their lobbyists, through their bought, coddled and co-opted Congressional agents like John Sidney McCain III has faded from the American conscience and memory. It should never be forgotten, because it is a window into the ethos of the once and future John Sidney McCain III.

Yes, that’s right; not just the old John Sidney McCain III, but the present and future John Sidney McCain III as well. McCain did one of his patented swivel and pivot jobs and has, since the Keating Five misconduct, painted himself as some type of "reformer" of ethics and campaign finance corruption, nothing has changed about him once the surface is scratched. He is the same old John Sidney McCain III of the Keating Five he has always been.

How do you know he is the same old McCain? Just scratch the surface and take a look instead of relying on the false persona he pitches with the aplomb of an old fashioned snake oil peddler. Let me get the ball rolling for you (although if you turn over any of McCain’s rocks, you find the same rot upon close inspection). As promised at the beginning of this article, John Sidney McCain III is right back at conduct that is almost the twenty year separated mirror image of his dining on the teat of Charlie Keating.

The video at the top (h/t hidnusr) tells the story of John Sidney McCain III, con men and lobbyists. The basis is supplied in print by the Berman and Ames article from the Nation cited above, The McCain-Follieri Love Boat:

John McCain has been hammering rival Barack Obama for being little more than a vapid "celebrity" and "elitist." But The Nation has obtained a photo revealing just how star-struck a straight-talking maverick can become when offered the chance to celebrate his birthday aboard a yacht filled with celebrities–even if one of those celebrity types turns out to be an A-list con man.

During McCain’s visit in 2006 he celebrated with birthday cocktails and sweets aboard the Celine Ashley yacht. In the photograph, taken in Montenegro at the end of August, McCain is shown boarding the yacht ramp towards the smiling Follieri and Hathaway. Just ahead of McCain and shaking hands with Follieri appears to be Rick Davis–McCain’s top aide and now co-manager of his campaign, who accompanied him on the trip and advised the government of Montenegro. A few months after McCain’s yacht party, Follieri strengthened his ties to McCain’s orbit by retaining Rick Davis’s well-connected Washington lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, and offering Davis both an investment deal and help in securing the Catholic vote for McCain’s presidential bid.

McCain-FollieriYachtPicFollieri, who posed as Vatican chief financial officer in order to win friends and investments, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Manhattan district court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and five counts of money laundering. As part of the plea, Follieri admitted to misappropriating at least $2.4 million of investor money and redirecting it to foreign personal bank accounts that were disguised as business accounts.

An even bigger mystery is how Follieri’s boat came to be docked in Montenegro on McCain’s birthday. According to a journalist in Montenegro, the yacht had been anchored there for several days before McCain’s arrival, and only sailed away after McCain boarded. According to Vijesti, locals were told that McCain was meeting "friends from Florida" on the yacht.

According to the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, in January 2007 Follieri sent Rick Davis a packet of information on his companies Follieri Capital and Follieri Media, apparently hoping to get financing from Pegasus Capital Advisors, a hedge fund in Connecticut that Davis represented. "Follieri’s proposal to Davis had two dimensions to it–first, as an investment opportunity for Davis’s fund; but secondly, there was the political dimension, in which Follieri offered to help deliver Catholic votes to McCain," said Claudio Gatti, a reporter for Il Sole 24 Ore, who investigated Follieri for eighteen months.

In February 2007, according to a recent article in the New York Daily News, Follieri retained Davis’s lobbying firm, Davis Manafort. According to the paper, "on Feb. 27, 2007, Davis Manafort partner Rick Gates signed a confidentiality agreement drafted by the Follieri Group.

John McCain is still freeloading with bigwigs, lobbyists and criminal influence peddlers in exotic and foreign seaside haunts of the wealthy. Sounds just like the Keating Five Scandal, where someone in McCain’s immediate personal orbit, in Keating it was his wife Cindy that got an unbelievable "financial opportunity" from the criminal con man and influence peddler (Keating) and McCain got the promised delivery of political support, huge contributions and vote delivery in the election he was engaged in. In Follieri, it is his best friend Lobbyist/Campaign Manager Rick Davis getting the big "financial opportunity" while McCain reaps the gain in campaign funding and delivery of much needed votes as he runs for the Presidency he craves at any cost.

How similar in appearance are these constants in John McCain’s real, ingrained political persona? Take a look at this photo of John Sidney McCain III living large and phat with multiple generations of the Keating clan, lobbyists and power brokers taken during McCain’s 51st birthday bash at Charlie Keating’s private Bahamas resort. Photo scanned from the September 12, 1993 edition of the Phoenix Gazette (original photo; color by teh wolf). From the same Gazette article, Krista Keating recalls the idyllic days she spent with McCain while he bonded and partied with Charlie Keating, his family, and his rich and powerful friends:

I watch Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, and I see all the places we stayed.

She travelled to Paris, Monte Carlo, South Africa. She and C3 [Charles Keating III] lived for six months in Switzerland.

She partied with Michael Milken, Dolly Parton, Cheryl Ladd and lesser-knowns who wanted to be part of the Keating magic. She met the Pope.

There were vacations with John McCain and his wife, Cindy, to the Keating’s posh and private Bahamas resort, where she and C3 frolicked in the crystal blue waters with McCain, then a member of the US House of Representatives. They partied to the tunes of a calypso band hired by Keating and celebrated the August birthdays of McCain and C3, which are one day apart.

On the surface, it seemed the greatest freedom you could hope for. But Charles [Charlie] Keating was always there; always watching. (Emphasis added).

And so, here they are, matching bookends, then and now, on the career and ethos of John Sidney McCain III. Then Keating; now Follieri. McCain isn’t different; and he certainly is no "maverick" whatever in the world that amorphous term was supposed to mean in the first place. No, McCain is a standard issue, glad handing, moneyed up, self serving politician hocking his wares to whoever and whatever will benefit John Sidney McCain III the most at the time. Americans, and American media, are beginning to realize that there is nothing honorable nor unique about McCain and his political ethos. The shiny Earl Schieb paint job he has been fooling people with for years is wearing thin, and the real McCain is showing through; it is not an attractive sight, but it is the real John McCain.

The US economy is currently battered and on the precipice of significant meltdown from a housing and financial market scandal that is, although much larger in scope, eerily similar to the Charlie Keating led Savings & Loan crisis of the late 1980s that John McCain played such a significant role in. And once again, John McCain is out partying and pandering with money movers, power brokers and their lobbyists in posh and exotic foreign seaside haunts of the rich and famous.

For too long, McCain has been allowed to skate along in this election without acknowledgment and understanding by the press and the public of his deep involvement in the Keating Five Scandal. As another housing and finance scandal hangs like a guillotine over the necks of Americans, John McCain’s intimate ties with the power brokers, money men and lobbyists that create these scandals should be front and center in the discussion. John Sidney McCain III is, as so many are coming to realize, not an honorable politician, the US and world financial markets hang in the balance, and McCain’s Keating like tendencies should be known and considered.

My friends, John McCain is not "change you can believe in", just more of the same. More of the Same, and Old, McCain.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

  1. Arbusto says:

    This begs the question of how, once elected to the Senate in 1986, McBush got reelected by the good citizens of Arizona three times. Were there no investigative journalists in Arizona that could make these charges excite the electorate to elect his opponent? Are Arizonans that stupid or just GOPers of the first order, and if not, then what hope does Obama have, because the Arizona electorate is really just your average voter.

    • Badwater says:

      Obama needs to get the word out about McCain. He needs the help of the Democratic Party. Where are the prominent voices?

      • wobblybits says:

        I don’t know. I don’t understand much of the strategy the campaign is employing but I do my little part and hope it helps

    • bmaz says:

      Are Arizonans that stupid or just GOPers of the first order

      Heh, a little of both I suppose. Arizona was very much solid GOP territory, except for the Tucson area, at the time. Also, McCain may be no Einstein, but he is an accomplished politician; do not underestimate his skills at selling himself in that vein. Where he is standing today is testament to that fact.

      • Mauimom says:

        I turned on the tv this morning to see how the financial meltdown was going, but instead found “live” coverage of McCain in FL, saying that Obama was responsible for the “negativity” in the campaign, because Obama wouldn’t sit down for those damn “town hall meetings.”

        I really, really despair!!

        • wobblybits says:

          I thought McCain was a grown man. He sounds like a child.

          Don’t despair. Wait until the debates. All will be better

          • Mauimom says:

            I know that Obama will shred him in the debates, but the American public is so stupid, they’ll just feel sorry for McCain getting beaten by the “smart guy” [just like they did in high school at the damned spelling bee].

            • wobblybits says:

              Relaxar (relax) breathe in and out. Yes, this country is chock full of well gray matter challenged folks but I did a lot of phone banking over the weekend in Ohio and Penn and lots of floks are worried that they are going to go under. They are painfully aware of the economy and that McCain is not the solution.

          • wobblybits says:

            Can I challenge you to do something? not necessarily for the campaign but for the party. Head down to your local dem headquarters and help them out or volunteer in your community. You get to meet folks and mauybe flip some undecideds

            • Mauimom says:

              I do this already. [I’m in Hawaii, so there’s not as many “undecideds” to flip, although how they could elect Lingle governor is a mystery.]

              I’ve given every dime I can afford, have besieged friends with e-mails, set up an Act Blue page, phone-banked, walked, etc.

              I’ve been working for Democrats since McGovern, really ramped it up in 2000 and 2004, thought at last we were going to be victorious, with a Presidential candidate who could bring in House & Senate members. But now I watch the utter stupidity of the American people pull us back into an even worse hole.

              I worry most of all for my children, and for those for whom government ought to provide a safety net. And I’m not talking Lehman Bros. bail-out.

              • wobblybits says:

                ((((Mauimom))) lots of hugs and positive energy. You have done all you can, rest in that. Keep up the work and just keep on keeping on. We are in the last stretch and it is unbearable at times, but we will get through it with victory

  2. JThomason says:

    OT. Venezuela expels US Ambassador:

    Russians and Venezuelans are having joint military exercises in the Caribbean. This is a direct response to this administration’s decision to place anti-missile defense systems along Russia’s borders.

    Daily Kos.

  3. LS says:

    McCain is a puppet of Bushco and so is Palin.

    I’m sure Bushco has tons of dirt on both of them, which is why they will do whatever they are told.

    McCain’s “image” is totally controlled by the likes of Rove. He is an imposter….same old McCain…with a lust for luxury. Actually, I think he really believes he’s in control, but that’s because he’s fundamentally stupid.

  4. scribe says:

    You note:

    The shiny Earl Schieb paint job he has been fooling people with for years is wearing thin, and the real McCain is showing through; it is not an attractive sight, but it is the real John McCain.

    “Portrait of Dorian Gray”, much?

      • scribe says:

        Yeah. I thought so, too.

        That novel has been “on my table” lately – the German radio station I listen to regularly recently finished a reading of it, chapter by chapter, over the air.

        There are few better ways of learning the real ins and outs of a language than to hear a dramatic work you already know, done in that language. Be it a James Bond movie (or any other movie you already know) or some piece of literary fiction, it really stretches the ability to understand the language.

  5. Jo Fish says:

    Sarah Palindrome (the same old thing forward and backwards) said today that “they” meaning I suppose her and Johnny Seven Tables were going to hold CEOs “accountable”.

    Which is why their campaign is being run in part by a woman whose “Golden Parachute” was enormous after running a great, entreprenurial company, Hewlett-Packard straight into the dumper.

    Unfortunately that’s a message that won’t penetrate the haze the low-information Wal*Mart shopping voter lives in, unless they had a relative, friend or were unlucky enough to donate their salary involuntarily to HP’s corporate treasury to pay Carly her $21 million dollars for wrecking the company.

    Yup, straight shooters. Straight to the bank after shooting the company.

    • LS says:

      I notice the Carly’s been “missing in action” ever since Palin got the nomination…She was all over the networks before the convention. I’ve seen her once since then. I only see Nancy Pfenpooper for the most part.

  6. Jo Fish says:

    Coincidentally, on MSNBC Carly Fiorna just said that “management teams need to be held accountable” and Andrea Mitchell said nothing (no surprises).

    Have we passed into the looking glass…?

    • Blub says:

      is this now the official rethug message now? don’t worry… things are better than they seem to be? is that the best message they can come up with? and and why are 40% of the voters still buying it?

  7. Mauimom says:

    I am really bummed because I just talked to a friend in VA whose mom + 3 sisters, all life-long Democrats, are now voting for Palin because they’re mad Obama didn’t choose Hillary. Friend & I had a long e-mail exchange, with my asking if she’d queried relatives on Palin’s policies vs. those of Hillary, what this would mean, etc. Answer: they’re still voting for Hillary. And these are intelligent, college-educated women, who really should know better. What has happened to this country?

    • wobblybits says:

      Then sadly they were never in it for the party. It was purely gender for them otherwise they would heed Clinton’t wishes and support the democratic ticket.

      Don’t fret, maybe they willcome around. All we can do is hope/pray like it is up to some deity that the dem ticket wins and work like it is only up to the worker bees that he is elected.

      ((MauiMom))

    • Twain says:

      Ask them if they have considered the idea that Hillary didn’t want to be VP. I don’t think she did want it but that just IMO.

      • Mauimom says:

        Great minds think alike. I suggested that to her — to ask her mom & sisters to consider that Obama might have even asked Hillary and she said “no,” thinking if she accepted she couldn’t run until 2016, and that she could do more for the country in the Senate, perhaps even as Majority Leader.

        And yeah, the “didn’t you hear what Hillary said about supporting Obama? You’re going to dis her by not doing so?”

        My last e-mail to my friend was that we have to move on to other voters.

  8. Hmmm says:

    OT – Paulson presser on right now. Talking about major changes in the US financial system, major changes in USG structures governing same. McCain said the same thing an hour ago. I’m a bit worried.

    WTF, now all of a sudden the R’s are the biggest Socialists in the history of ever… How the fuck did that happen?

    (Sorry for the cross-comment, this post is now tops at the Mamaship.)

  9. Clovis says:

    I remember the improbable story of a prankster who on a lark showed up at a radio station and claimed to be a catcher with the local MLB team. It worked. He was astonished. Hey, I can do this, he decided, and carried the masquerade ever onward, aided and abetted by those who sought nearness to fame. His credibility was nil yet public gullibility was through the roof. One of his marks received a phone call from her parents while she was in bed with the creep. “Your lover is now at the plate in Boston.” Oh, they tape-delay those games, he replied. Let the games continue.

    Even the most brazen fraud discovers, hey, I can get away with this. Because there is this massive sludge polluting our land comprising one part greedy wealth and nine parts aching and alarming and awesome stupidity.

    Against which, as Schiller wrote, the gods themselves contend in vain.

  10. Hmmm says:

    To articulate my worry: I smell a system where ordinary people will basically not be able to borrow money any more. A hard barrier to upward class mobility.

  11. wobblybits says:

    OT: Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to review its options with regards to troubled insurer American International Group, a person familiar with the situation said on Monday.

      • Hmmm says:

        Well, everyone with the TV on any news channel is listening to him right now (just ended) — and not Obama, because the Obama appearance was pre-empted by everyone going to Paulson. (h/t foothillsmike in Christy’s thread.)

        • wobblybits says:

          i meant financial folks, not the media. I have garden tools sharpen than those folks. Imagine these are the same nutjobs that want to turnover social security to the same architects of this fiasco

    • Blub says:

      but we are talking about a system where Lehman’s Fuld was, at the same time he was utterly failing as CEO of his company, a board member of the NY Federal Reserve, the entity charged with regulating his abject failure of a company. This system is beyond rotten to the core…

  12. Leen says:

    Bmaz lots of info here.
    “McCain is still the same old glad handing, do anything to serve his own raw ambition,”

    McCain more than likely dropped napalm on innocent people, ditched his handicapped wife after having an affair with the rich girl Cindy, married Cindy and now they both talk about family values. Makes me sick.

    • Twain says:

      I think McC and Cindy have the strangest relationship I have ever seen. They don’t touch each other, rarely ever even look at each other, look bored to tears and she looks like a whipped dog most of the time. What in heavens name is she getting out of this marriage? It must be absolute hell for her.

      • MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel says:

        Really. What IS Cindy Lou getting out of that marriage? Except for direct access to Washington fixers and Senate staffers to work their stagecraft when she gets in trouble? She has seemed especially morose since she hasn’t been able to steal her drugs in quantity from that charity.*

        The manly Mr. Biscuitbarrel’s lifetime best friend said to me, “I never thought I would say anything positive about Rush Limbaugh, but at least he PAID for his cigarboxes full of drugs.” Heh.
        ______________________________________
        * People with legitimate pain problems can get legitimate and appropriate treatment. It’s not always easy, but many of us do, and I certainly don’t have Cindy’s kind of money. People who want to down fistfuls of Schedule-2 narcotics in order to enter cloud-cuckoo land–well, that’s not the same thing as a legitimate pain problem, no matter how daintily Cindy dabs at her eyes for the television cameras.

  13. dosido says:

    Jeepers Wally!

    John McCain is against corruption as much as
    Larry Craig is against homosexuality as much as
    David Vitter is against marital infidelity as much as
    Mark Foley is against sexual predators!

    What crimefighters they are. They know just how dangerous they can be!