Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain's brazen hypocrisy on gambling, lobbyists

As I noted last week, McCain undertook a ruthless personal vendetta against lobbyist Jack Abramoff. McCain's Senate office produced a 373 page report on Abramoff's supposed misdeeds.

His targeting Abramoff is rank hypocrisy and rather disinenguous. Just look at Sunday, September 28's New York Times article by Jo Becker and Don Van Natta, Jr., "For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling." McCain targeted Abramoff, for other things, allegedly stealing from Native American casinos. Gallingly, McCain (a two-time chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee) himself had thick, intertwined relations with Native American gaming outfits and associated lobbyists. He and his lobbyist allies benefited from the Native Americans. Rick Davis,' McCain's chief strategist, walked away with $100,000 from a tribe in the Abramoff organization.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

And, McCain has been swayed by [gambling] special interests, contrary to the maverick myth he and champions in the media have propagated:
Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

And McCain was selective in his investigation. He kept it focused on Abramoff, yet as the Times article reports, he announced that he would not investigate members of Congress, "whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland."

We are still awaiting greater press and web attention to journalist Gary S. Chafetz's book on Abramoff, McCain, "Perfect Villain: John McCain and the Demonization of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff."

The same issue of the Times reported that McCain received nearly $500,000 from gambling interests since 1990.
As reported in the New York Times, September 28, 2008:
The following is a list of the top ten highest campaign contributors to Senator John McCain since 1992 in the gambling industry, based on analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

1. MGM Mirage

2. Mashantucket Pequot Tribe

3. Wynn Resorts

4. Las Vegas Sands

5. International Game Technology

6. Harrah's Entertainment

7. Station Casinos

8. Mandalay Resort Group

9. (tie) Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona

Stockbridge-Munsee Community

The Democratic National Committee, along with the Barack Obama campaign, issued a 42-second video in the late night hours prior to the newsstand deliver of the Times.
The DNC press release, via the Huffington Post:
The Democratic National Committee today released a new web video highlighting John McCain's history of stacking the deck in favor of his favorite gambling industry lobbyists. The video comes on the heels of a new report outlining McCain's pattern of using his position as the chairman of a key Senate committee to tip the scales in favor of casino lobbyists with connections to his family and campaigns -- even if it meant reversing long held positions.

The video, called "Betting on McCain," shows McCain stacking the deck in favor of friends and former campaign aides who lobbied for the casinos with business before McCain's committee. In return, those casino lobbyists organized gambling trips to casinos for McCain (whose reputation as a high roller is well known), steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign, and at least 40 of them went to work for or are helping raise money for McCain's current campaign.


gary s. chafetz said...

Hi, I wrote the Perfect Villain: John McCain and the Demonization of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff. I too am amazed that the book is receiving scant attention. Never mind my seemingly implausible conclusions about Abramoff (and that I got him to clandestinely talk to me so extensively for the past two years), but my well-documented analysis and insights into McCain's deceit and skulduggery--both in his 373-page Indian Affairs Report and his refusal to release his POW records doesn't seem to be getting any traction. I don't get it.

Thanks for wondering too.

Gary S. Chafetz

AL_EastCoasting said...

I am very surprised that the New York Times ran a front page story on McCain and his campaign against Jack Abramoff. The Times article makes some claims that are parallel to points that you make in your book. I cannot understand how the authors could write a several hundred-word article and not make reference to the only book that thoroughly investigates the Abramoff affair.

Anonymous said...

i've recently read 'The Perfect Villain' and was surprised to find a series of Youtube videostalking about the same topic.

the information released in both should be wide spread before election day