Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain’s Ties To Indian Gaming

Well, this explains the McCain campaign’s pre-emptive war on the New York Times last week.

Seems the Times was working on a story that reveals the Senator’s gambling addiction and ties to Indian gaming.

It’s an interesting read and I urge everyone to head over to the NYT to check it out. I can’t help but think of how the wingnut right would call for the fainting couches were it a Democrat hitting casinos once a month in “weekend betting marathons,” while at the same time overseeing these same casinos as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

It’s another example of “mavericky” McCain’s bullshit lies. On the one hand he’s milking his reputation as a “reformer” who took down corrupt Indian gaming lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But at the same time, his top aides and fundraisers profited handsomely when Abramoff was out of the way, fleecing the Indian tribes in an almost identical fashion:
But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.


For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.


David Sickey, the tribe’s vice chairman, said he was “dumbfounded” over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance’s firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey’s predecessors.

“The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again — these absurd amounts of money being paid,” Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance’s firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas — even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Even more awkward is McCain’s own love of gambling, which seems to border on addiction:

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

I dunno, I’m not much of a gambler. But none of this sounds very presidential. And it certainly would be a source of outrage were it the Democratic presidential candidate involved.

The article states that McCain’s gambling connections have been a source of concern with evangelicals. It will be interesting to watch this story develop and see if anything comes of it, or if it gets buried by the Wall Street bailout story.