Sen. John McCain has made a career of siding with Democrats, says former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. And he blames McCain's frequent forays across the aisle for the Arizona senator's involvement in a notorious scandal.
McCain was always known among Republicans as “the undependable vote” in the Senate and always “allied with Democrats,” Hastert told the Chicago Tribune.
In a conference call with reporters, Haster said McCain had changed “after the Keating Five scandal.”
The Tribune recalled that McCain was one of five U.S. senators implicated in the 1989 Keating Five scandal, when the lawmakers allegedly pressured federal regulators against pursuing an investigation of Charles Keating, the former chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association and a McCain close friend and contributor.
McCain and Democratic Sens. 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 (FHLBB) in April 1989. They met a second time, along with a fifth senator, Don Riegle.
The FHLBB then waited a full two years to seize Lincoln Savings, and the subsequent bailout cost taxpayers $2.6 billion, making it the biggest of the era's savings and loan scandals. Lincoln investors lost almost $200 million in the debacle.
In November 1990, the Senate Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the meetings between the regulators and senators, who became known as the Keating Five.
McCain was cited by the Senate Ethics Committee for showing “poor judgment” in the matter. B the panel recommended no further action against him.
As a result of McCain’s involvement in the scandal, said Hastert, McCain changed and became “more of a populist.”
“He was gearing up for a run for the presidency in 2000, so he had to change track and clean up his image, from my point of view,” explained Hastert, a Mitt Romney supporter.
According to the Tribune, Hastert has not had a lot of good to say about McCain in recent years. Hastert also insisted that on agenda items under the Republican-controlled Congress, “it just seems like everything we did, John was someplace else.”
“It was McCain-Kennedy, it was McCain-Lieberman, it was McCain-Feingold on campaign finance reform,” Hastert told the Tribune, noting McCain's Democratic co-sponsors on legislation. “He was against us on tax cuts, and his form of immigration reform was to open the gates and let everybody in.”
Asked if he considered McCain a conservative, Hastert said, “In my opinion, he is not. He is a moderate. In almost everything he’s done, he’s done [things] against what mainstream Republicans thought and he’s allied with Democrats. He was always the undependable vote in the Senate.”
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