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Mel "Tower of Jell-O" Martinez gets solid with McCain

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez 's on-again, off-again plans to back John McCain for president is on again, now that McCain's chief Florida rival for the endorsement has relatively little chance of winning here.

Martinez is scheduled to appear here with McCain at the Latin Builder's Association just hours after an appearance by Rudy Giuliani -- who's plummeting in the polls and was battling for the endorsement of Martinez, who couldn't be reached for comment.

McCain's staff confirmed the endorsement. Martinez was scheduled to endorse McCain this week, the Miami Herald first reported, but he backed off under pressure from Giuliani fundraisers who supported Martinez's 2004 senate campaign.

After his first about-face, a prominent McCain backer and Republican operative, Roger Stone, bashed Martinez for being a "Tower of Jell-O'' for failing to support McCain.

"I'm glad he's decided to see the error of his ways and endorse the next president of the United States,'' Stone said.

Full story here


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Tom Smalley


Mc Cain? 22 years? how long does it take to fight in washington? This mavrick must not be that good ? 11,000 plus earmarks this year? and this bridge to no where? that was not stopped? alaska still gets to keep the $230,000,000.00 ? who faught that john? and when the minn. governor and legislator decides to spend $500,000,000.00 yup 1/2 BILLION on a sports center who wins that one John? the government sent minn. another $250,000,000.00 after getting there $3+ billion in tranportation funds? One man stands up to the special interests. … One man does what's right, not what's easy. I heard he is for temp. workers picking lettuce in is home state? but what does that say for the ones that want to stay here all year long? sounds like that is special interest? so is it the lettuce farmer thats in bed or the temp.workers you are siding for? Sorry John you are more valuble to use in the senate ,you collect your $58,000 per year navy pension and we will fell sorry for the senators and pay them $1 million per term for there part time work , keep up the good work ,I cant wait till next year and the what 12 or 13,000 earmarks and none are going to AZ. YIPPY ops Isn't Az the state with the big hole? must not be much there? do they have a fence yet? they need Gates for the lettuce pickers

The controversial George W. Bush-sponsored poll in South Carolina mentioned John McCain's role in the so-called Keating Five scandal, and McCain says his involvement in the scandal "will probably be on my tombstone." What exactly did McCain do?

In early 1987, at the beginning of his first Senate term, McCain attended two meetings with federal banking regulators to discuss an investigation into Lincoln Savings and Loan, an Irvine, Calif., thrift owned by Arizona developer Charles Keating. Federal auditors were investigating Keating's banking practices, and Keating, fearful that the government would seize his S&L, sought intervention from a number of U.S. senators.

At Keating's behest, four senators--McCain and Democrats Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Alan Cranston of California, and John Glenn of Ohio--met with Ed Gray, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, on April 2. Those four senators and Sen. Don Riegle, D-Mich., attended a second meeting at Keating's behest on April 9 with bank regulators in San Francisco.

Regulators did not seize Lincoln Savings and Loan until two years later. The Lincoln bailout cost taxpayers $2.6 billion, making it the biggest of the S&L scandals. In addition, 17,000 Lincoln investors lost $190 million.

In November 1990, the Senate Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the meetings between the senators and the regulators. McCain, Cranston, DeConcini, Glenn, and Riegle became known as the Keating Five.

(Keating himself was convicted in January 1993 of 73 counts of wire and bankruptcy fraud and served more than four years in prison before his conviction was overturned. Last year, he pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud and was sentenced to time served.)

McCain defended his attendance at the meetings by saying Keating was a constituent and that Keating's development company, American Continental Corporation, was a major Arizona employer. McCain said he wanted to know only whether Keating was being treated fairly and that he had not tried to influence the regulators. At the second meeting, McCain told the regulators, "I wouldn't want any special favors for them," and "I don't want any part of our conversation to be improper."

But Keating was more than a constituent to McCain--he was a longtime friend and associate. McCain met Keating in 1981 at a Navy League dinner in Arizona where McCain was the speaker. Keating was a former naval aviator himself, and the two men became friends. Keating raised money for McCain's two congressional campaigns in 1982 and 1984, and for McCain's 1986 Senate bid. By 1987, McCain campaigns had received $112,000 from Keating, his relatives, and his employees--the most received by any of the Keating Five. (Keating raised a total of $300,000 for the five senators.)

After McCain's election to the House in 1982, he and his family made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, three of which were to Keating's Bahamas retreat. McCain did not disclose the trips (as he was required to under House rules) until the scandal broke in 1989. At that point, he paid Keating $13,433 for the flights.

And in April 1986, one year before the meeting with the regulators, McCain's wife, Cindy, and her father invested $359,100 in a Keating strip mall.

The Senate Ethics Committee probe of the Keating Five began in November 1990, and committee Special Counsel Robert Bennett recommended that McCain and Glenn be dropped from the investigation. They were not. McCain believes Democrats on the committee blocked Bennett's recommendation because he was the lone Keating Five Republican.

In February 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee found McCain and Glenn to be the least blameworthy of the five senators. (McCain and Glenn attended the meetings but did nothing else to influence the regulators.) McCain was guilty of nothing more than "poor judgment," the committee said, and declared his actions were not "improper nor attended with gross negligence." McCain considered the committee's judgment to be "full exoneration," and he contributed $112,000 (the amount raised for him by Keating) to the U.S. Treasury.

Tom Smalley

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

Thomas Jefferson

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