Sen. John McCain
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 – the 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.
Flannery further reported that in 2000, Cindy Hensley McCain, the senator’s wife, held a 37.18 percent financial interest in her father’s Budweiser distributorship, although she was not involved in day-to-day operations.
The McCain’s four children held a combined 23.55 percent interest, though their interests were at that time held in trust.
Arizona crime connections again surfaced in the 1980s when McCain was implicated as one of the five U.S. senators named in the “Keating Five” scandal.
Charles Keating Jr. and his associates paid McCain some $112,000 in political campaign contributions between 1982 and 1987, while Keating was organizing a massive real estate fraud in the then FDIC federally insured Lincoln Savings and Loan Association.
In April 1986, McCain’s wife and father-in-law also invested $359,000 in a Keating shopping center, before the savings and loan scandal broke.
Keating was sent to prison under civil racketeering and fraud charges for the $1.1 billion loss the investment scheme cost the public, although McCain and the other U.S. senators involved managed to avoid charges in the Senate, with McCain receiving only an Ethics Committee rebuke for exercising “poor judgment.”
Even today, McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign staff includes several prominent lobbyists, despite the senator’s claim to be a campaign reform crusader whose goal is to take money out of politics.
WND previously reported McCain’s 2000 and 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis took a six-figure salary as president of the Soros-funded Reform Institute in the intervening years and managed his own lobby firm of Davis, Manafort & Freeman in Alexandria, Va., operating at the same building in a suite down the hall from the Reform Institute.
In 2003 and 2004, Davis apparently solicited CSC Holdings, a subsidiary of the Cablevision Systems Corporation, headed by Charles F. Dolan, to make two separate $100,000 contributions to the Reform Institute.
In between the two separate $100,000 contributions Cablevision made to the Reform Institute, McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting Cablevision’s desire to continue packaging customer TV programming in a manner more profitable to Cablevision.
In this period of time, McCain worked with Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist representing telecommunications companies, including Cablevision.
WND also reported Davis arranged a 2006 meeting with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in Davos, Switzerland, a close supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
McCain repeatedly has voiced opposition to Putin, even calling on President Bush to suspend Russia’s membership in the Group of Eight.
In 2007, the U.S. State Department cancelled Deripaska’s visa over continuing concerns he remained connected with the Russian mafia.