February 22, 2008

Keating Five Belies McCain's Record

In his reponse to the New York Times article regarding lobbyist Vickie Imesman, McCain said:
At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust nor make a decision which in any way would not be in the public interest and would favor anyone or any organization. As chairman of the Commerce Committee, there were hundreds of issues, including many telecommunications issues, that came before the committee. I had to make decisions on those issues, and I made those decisions. Sometimes they were agreed with, sometimes they were not.

Sometimes they were agreed with, sometimes they were not? Aside from being senseless, one has to wonder, does McCain mean to say "sometimes they were above board and sometimes they were not?" The evidence presented below proves that sometimes McCain favored private interests at the expense of the public, contrary to his statement above.

Two well-documented cases belie the claim McCain is upstanding. The first has a historic name, and the second involves lobbyist Vickei Iesman.

The first goes by the name of the Keating Five, of which McCain was one of the five. In short, the Keating Five crimes involved five US Senators who tried to influence regulators on behalf of wealthy Savings and Loan magnate Charles Keating during the 1980s version of today's mortgage and financial crisis. It's as illegal as trying to influence a judge's decision. The point. McCain cannot claim a long unblemished career; he's central to a famous influence peddling scandal.

The second more recent case goes by the name Paxson Communication. In the Paxson case, there is written evidence that McCain clearly violated ex parte rules barring outside pressure on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decisions, like trying to influence a judge. What makes it even more improper is that McCain did this as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, its chartering legislation and its budget. Being in government myself, when the Senator of the committee that approves your budget asks you to jump, you don't wait to ask "how high," you immediately jump as high as you can.

The Issue:

At issue in the Paxson case was Paxson's desire to gain commercial control over a public TV station in Pittsburg, PA. It was a small-time issue, which makes it even more suspicious that Chairman McCain would take a personal interest. The reason for his personal interest was that the now-famous Vicki Iseman was lobbying Chairman McCain on behalf of Paxson.

What McCain Did Wrong:

First, McCain took sides on an issue in favor of a private organization contrary to the public interest. Second, he did so by trying to pressure the "judges" in the case, members of the FCC. There was an issue of the clock running out on Vickie Iseman's client Paxson. McCain wrote letters directly to each FCC commissioner inquiring about their votes, and asking them to respond by a specific date. FCC Commissioner Tristani wrote McCain saying, in diplomatic terms to the man who controlled the FCC budget:

“In that letter, you requested that each commissioner advise you in writing by the close of business today whether we have acted upon these applications. Respectfully, I cannot comply with your request, in order to preserve the integrity of our processes. It is my practice not to publicly disclose whether I have voted or when I will be voting on items in restricted proceedings prior to their adoption by the full commission.”

It's not only Tristani's practice, it's the law. She knew that McCain's actions were illegal. According to Angela Campbell, director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, McCain's actions were formally proven to be a violation:

... on December 20th, we actually filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission’s general counsel, alleging that he had violated the rules, and we asked for them to act on it right away. They did not. However, eventually, in August of 2000, they did rule that the senator had violated the rules.

So, McCain's claims of high integrity are probably no better than any other Senator. Given his fame in the Keating Five scandal, his record is probably worse than most.


John McCain's campaign has denied the Sentor met with Paxson Communications in 1999; however, Lowell Paxson has contradicted this statement. McCain's Paxson Problem.


The Arizona Republic, The Keating Five, Dan Nowicki, Bill Muller, March 1, 2007, AZCentral.com.

DemocracyNow!, Behind the John McCain Lobbying Scandal: A Look at How McCain Urged the Federal Communications Commission to Act on Behalf of Paxson Communications, February 22, 2008.

Paxton, Paxon

1 comment:

Worried American said...

I replied to your comment on IAB to "bash away". The public (such as is who read blogs) needs to know about the corrupt actions by the candidates. All dispense glowing rhetoric (lies) to gull the gullible public and someone has to reveal them for what they are.

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