7.21.2008

Sunlight is the best disenfectant.

The following article in the Chicago Sun parallels foolish moves made on the part of two politicians early in their careers. Worthy of note:

Amid crumbling bungalows on Chicago's South Side or ranch-style homes in the Phoenix suburbs, an ambitious politician can still get too close to a wheeler-dealer developer.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama admits it "was a boneheaded move" for him to buy property from his friend and donor Tony Rezko's wife after headlines proclaimed federal investigators were looking into Rezko's manipulation of state pension boards for his own profit. Rezko was later convicted on 16 fraud counts.

John McCain admitted he made a "serious error" in not reporting free trips to the Bahamas he took on friend and donor Charles Keating's private jet.

Republican candidate John McCain admitted he made a "serious error" in not reporting free trips to the Bahamas he took on friend and donor Charles Keating's private jet. McCain was one of the "Keating Five" senators who met with federal regulators to ask them not to crack down on Keating's failing Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Keating's political hardball bought him an extra two years. During that time, the cost to tax-payers of bailing out his thrift grew from $1.2 billion to $3.4 billion.

Both Obama and McCain, as up-and-coming office-seekers, attracted the attention of these friend-mentor figures early in their careers.

Which candidate was more naive? Did Obama and McCain show poor judgment by getting close to multi-millionaire businessmen accused of collecting office-holders to advance their interests? Which candidate¹s alliance with a donor hurt taxpayers more?

2 comments:

Andrew said...

McCain met with regulators on the behalf of Keating, a campaign contributor, once. In fact many believe that the only reason McCain was included in the Keating 5 so there would be a Republican target and John Glenn was later added as Republican retribution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keating_Five). Both were cleared.

Obama facilitated the usage of government handouts by supporters(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rezko), accepted proceeds in the form of campaign contributions (some returned after Rezko indictment), received assistance buying a home below market value (Rezko), currently has partners of Rezko in senior positions in his campaign and has promised an additional $500 million of similar development funding if he’s elected.

Your contention that somehow McCain’s actions were more corrupt because of the financial scale of Keating’s losses are a little bogus. Keating would have invested Lincoln’s money recklessly whether McCain was an association or not. Obama’s crony’s misallocation of taxpayer dollars and Rezko’s rise in Illinois politics could not have happened without Obama(http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/1025460,CST-NWS-watchdog26.article).

I could leave my office door unlocked and cost my company tens of thousands of dollars. I could rob a 7/11 and cost them hundreds. Does culpability have no cost?

Yes. More. Sunlight. Please.

Andrew said...

As for more analogous connections to the Keating scandal:

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/12/nation/na-johnson12
Jim Johnson, former Head of Obama's VP selection process, Former chairman of Fannie Mae, Recipient of steeply discounted mortages

The Fannie Mae debacle may end up making the S&L bailout look small.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121660089138069207.html
Billionaire Penny Pritzker helped run Hinsdale, Ill.-based Superior, overseeing her family's 50% ownership stake. She now serves as Barack Obama's national campaign-finance chairwoman, which means her banking past could prove to be an embarrassment to her -- and perhaps to the campaign.

Superior was seized in 2001 and later closed by federal regulators. Government investigators and consumer advocates have contended that Superior engaged in unsound financial activities and predatory lending practices. Ms. Pritzker, a longtime friend and supporter of Sen. Obama, served for a time as Superior's chairman, and later sat on the board of its holding company.