Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Two can play at that game
Paul Begala sounds a warning to Team McCain about what can happen when you play the "guilt by association game..."
I think Governor Palin here is making a strategic mistake. This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back, I have written a book about McCain, I had a dozen researchers go through him, I didn’t even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization, it was the U.S. Council for World Freedom, it was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran contra scandal. It was an ultra conservative, right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League – the parent organization – which ADL said “has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.”

Now, that's not John McCain, I don't think he is that. But you know, the problem is that a lot of people know John McCain’s record better than Governor Palin. And he does not want to play guilt by association or this thing could blow up in his face.
And it gets worse. Not only could the Obama campaign play the Keating card, or the Alaska Independence Party card, but they also might get interested in John and Cindy McCain's mob ties, and Cindy's father's conviction for illegal liquor sales during the 1940s, subjects the Bushies held in reserve to use against McCain back in 2000. The mobster in question? Joe "Bananas" Bonano (and the story also wraps back into the Keating Five scandal.) The story was explored in depth in a February 17, 2000 story in the Phoenix New Times. And it was picked up by no less a right wing outfit than WorldNetDaily this February, back before right wingers were reprogrammed to fully support McCain as the Republican nominee:

John McCain's personal fortune traces back to organized crime in Arizona, through his father-in-law, according to a report published by a multi-news agency team called Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.

IRE reporters Amy Silverman and John Doherty, writing in the Phoenix New Times, note that the father of McCain's wife, James Hensley, was convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court of Arizona in March 1948 on seven counts of filing false liquor records. Hensley also was charged with conspiracy to hide from federal authorities the names of persons involved in a liquor industry racket with two companies he managed, United Sales Company in Phoenix and United Distributors in Tucson.

The umbrella company, United Liquor, at that time held a monopoly in Arizona, organized and managed by Kemper Marley, who was accused of mob ties by a reporter who was murdered in 1977.

Silverman and Doherty report that by 1955, Hensley had launched a Budweiser distributorship in Phoenix, "a franchise reportedly bestowed upon him by Marley, who was never indicted in the 1948 liquor-law-violation case – or a subsequent one – despite his controlling role in the liquor distribution businesses."

... According to Marley's longtime public relations man, Al Lizanetz, the Marley liquor empire was founded by the Bronfman family dynasty of Canada which operated Allied Finance company Northern Export Company and Distillers Corporation Seagrams, Ltd. empire.

As chronicled by the "Rumrunners and Prohibition" video shown popularly on the History Channel, during the 1920s, the Bronfman family made millions in bootlegging, accounting for half the illegal liquor crossing the border, working in a profitable distribution deal with the infamous mobster Meyer Lansky, who later moved on to establish the crime syndicates in the casinos of Havana, Cuba, in the 1940s and 50s.

Arizona in the 1970s drew a "who's who" of organized crime figures seeking to retire in the sun, including Rochester, N.Y., mob boss Joe Bonanno, who spent his last days along the Lake Havasu shores and in a quiet home in Tucson.

In 1977, after Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was killed when his car was blown up by the mob in a parking lot, a team of 36 journalists from 27 news organizations, known as IRE, published an 80,000 word 23-part series on organized crime in Arizona.

Dan Nowicki and Bill Muller, reporting in the Arizona Republic March 1, 2007, documented that in 1953, Hensley was again charged with falsifying records at Marley's liquor firms.

Hensley was found not guilty after being defended by William Rehnquist, the future chief justice of the Supreme Court, Nowicki and Muller wrote.

In 2000, Hensley, then 80 years old, still controlled the Budweiser distributorship valued as a $200 million-a-year business, with annual sales of more than 20 million cases of beer.

On Feb. 17, 2000, Pat Flannery reported in the Arizona Republic that Hensley's beer-distribution empire was the fifth largest in the nation, "a Budweiser franchise whose bigwigs hold the No. 2 spot on Sen. John McCain's all-time career list of corporate donors."

Since 1982, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Hensley & Co. officials have pumped $80,000 into the campaigns of McCain, Flannery wrote. More than a quarter of that has been donated since 1997.

Then, there's McCain's association with Arizona developer Donald Diamond:

When Mr. Diamond wanted to buy land at the (closed Army) base, Fort Ord, Mr. McCain assigned an aide who set up a meeting at the Pentagon and later stepped in again to help speed up the sale, according to people involved and a deposition Mr. Diamond gave for a related lawsuit. When he appealed to a nearby city for the right to develop other property at the former base, Mr. Diamond submitted Mr. McCain’s endorsement as “a close personal friend.”

Writing to officials in the city, Seaside, Calif., the senator said, “You will find him as honorable and committed as I have.”

Courting local officials and potential partners, Mr. Diamond’s team promised that he could “help get through some of the red tape in dealing with the Department of the Army” because Mr. Diamond “has been very active with Senator McCain,” a partner said in a deposition.

I could go on...

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posted by JReid @ 4:12 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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