“And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.” Mark 15:27
Associating with criminals has pretty much the same stigma these days as it did 2000 years ago. The difference is that Jesus sought out those associations because those were the people who needed his message the most. Elected officials, on the other hand, while they also seem to seek out criminals, aren’t looking for redemption – just money.
If this election is going to be about character and personality rather than substantive issues, let’s at least try to separate the facts from the fiction.
Over the next several weeks I’ll post some comparisons.
Let’s start with documented associations with criminals.
Here a link with a detailed history.
Here’s a summary
In 2003 Tony Rezko was a member of Obama’s fundraising committee for his senate campaign. In the fall of that year, the Obamas purchased a home in Kenwood and Tony Rezko’s wife purchased the lot next door – both from the same doctor. Obama paid $1.65M which was about $300K below the asking price and Mrs. Rezko paid full price for her lot. The Obamas then purchased a portion of the adjoining land from Mrs. Rezko for $104,500. Eight months later Tony Rezko was indicted for a kickback scheme. Federal prosecutors maintain that $10K of the kickbacks in question ended up in Obama’s campaign. When informed of the claim, Obama donated $10K from his political fund to charity.
Obama has called the incident “boneheaded” because it created the appearance that the Rezkos were doing him a favor.
Here’s a link to a wikipedia article with the details
Charles Keating made political contributions of $1.3M to various US Senators. In return he got their help in reigning in bank regulators who were concerned about questionable practices at a Savings and Loan which he owned. The regulators did back off. The Savings and Loan (Lincoln Savings and Loan) eventually failed. That failure cost mostly elderly Lincoln customers $285M. The government assumed $2.2B in liabilities when they took over the institution.
Keating contributed $112K to McCain’s campaign in the early 80’s. McCain’s wife and her father invested $359K in what the New York Times called a sweetheart Keating shopping center deal. A year later, McCain met with regulators to encourage them to back off Lincoln. By that time McCain and his extended family had also made nine trips at Keating’s expense including some in Keating’s private jet to Keating’s vacation home in the Bahama’s. Those trips were valued at $13K. They weren’t repaid until years later when Lincoln began to fail.
McCain was part of the Keating Five senate ethics investigation. He was cleared of all charges, but was criticized for exercising “poor judgment” by encouraging federal regulators to back off. McCain has said: “The appearance of it was wrong. It’s a wrong appearance when a group of senators appear in a meeting with a group of regulators, because it conveys the impression of undue and improper influence. And it was the wrong thing to do.” He has also written that attending the two April 1987 meetings was “the worst mistake of my life”.
As far as picking friends, seems like both men have had some issues. The significant difference, though, is that McCain’s poor judgement cost a bunch of folks in Southern California their life savings and put him through an ethics investigation by his peers.
Next up – Religion.