The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Friday, May 06, 2005
The Keating Five: more back-story washes in with the tide
There is one respect in which the law has it over politics: judicial precedents of any lasting significance are formulated in a way useful to posterity, written down, collated and stored accessibly .
One can go back to the year-books of the medieval English monarchs back to Edward I  for reports of cases.
With politics, nothing is systematically recorded. Corruption scandals, for instance, get their fifteen minutes; but, unlike famous cases of the US Supreme Court, getting to know of their existence, and finding a concise statement of the facts, is generally a job of work .
Thus it's no surprise to come by chance across the Keating Five scandal - which involved John McCain - and four other - Democratic - senators.
The story from 1987 concerned the Lincoln Savings and Loan then owned by Arizona property developer - and McCain contributor - Charles Keating: the S&L came under investigation, and the Five intervened with the regulator. Keating was later convicted of fraud and enjoyed a stay at Club Fed.
It's not so much the details, but the fact that the affair had not registered with me, that I find puzzling.
(The online format best placed to catalogue scandals like the Keating Five is probably Wikipedia: its current list of US political scandals is lightweight, to put it mildly.)
Another McCain wanabee-scandal from 2000 was, I find, that of WQEX-16 Pittsburgh, which an outfit called Paxson Communications wanted to buy . (McCain received contributions and the use of a corporate jet from Paxson and its executives.)
(Lyndon Johnson, of course, showed the benefits a legislator could derive from working the FCC - though, with KTBC Austin, those benefits went straight in Johnson's pocket!)
The suggestion from Timothy Noah is that, for McCain, WQEX is a bum rap: he intervened to ask the FCC to make a decision, but did not suggest what that decision should be.
According to the Post, Paxson's lobbyist on the matter, Lanny Davis (formerly a legal flak catcher for the Clinton White House), got Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer, Tom Udall, and Ron Klink to go one step further than McCain and actually urge the FCC to approve the sale.
That would be the same Steny Hoyer, now the House Minority Whip, who was part of the delegation of shylock-lovers who berated Nancy Pelosi for her unfavourable comments on their loan-shark-rimming (April 28) during the passage (!) of the bankruptcy bill S256.
Why should stories of John McCain and questionable practices have news value now? Because McCain is Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, which is investigating widest of the wide-boys, Jack Abramoff . Abramoff parted sundry gaming Indian tribes from millions of their ill-gotten gains, and there is a deal of partisan squealing on their behalf .
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