The political genealogy of Arizona Senator John McCain is firmly rooted in organized crime. Gus Greenbaum, an influential mobster, was close to Meyer Lansky in New York before going to work for the Chicago Outfit. In 1928, Greenbaum moved to Phoenix.
In 1941, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel became enamored with Nevada as a center for gambling and prostitution. With Lansky’s help, syndicate operatives advanced funds to build the Flamingo, a gambling resort named after Virginia Hill, a nightclub dancer, mob courier and Siegel’s lover.
Siegel ran the National Crime Syndicate’s racing wire service in Las Vegas and Los Angeles while Greenbaum oversaw the operation in Arizona. In the 1991 movie, Bugsy, actor Warren Beatty portrayed Siegel.
In 1947, Siegel was discovered skimming the casino skim, using Hill to move funds abroad. He was murdered in Los Angeles with a rifle fired through a window from 15 feet away.
Confirming it was a mob-approved hit, Greenbaum was on hand in Las Vegas to take control of the Flamingo. With his relocation to Nevada, Kemper Marley took over the Arizona operation.
Marley prospered in the post-Prohibition era as a statewide distributor of liquor distilled by Canada’s fabled Bronfman bootlegging clan. According to Rumrunners and Prohibition, a popular History Channel account of the era:
“During the 1920s, the Bronfmans made a bonanza in bootlegging. The company may have accounted for half of the illegal liquor crossing the border. Some claimed that Bronfman had a distribution deal for his booze with the infamous Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky….When Prohibition ended in 1933, it left a legacy of bloodshed, racketeering, and one of the wealthiest family dynasties in the world, the Bronfmans.”
The Bronfmans used that fortune to found and fund the Zionist World Jewish Congress.
In 1948, Marley escaped indictment on federal liquor law violations. That case led to the conviction of brothers Jim and Gene Hensley. Jim Hensley’s six-month sentence was suspended.
In 1953, Jim Hensley was acquitted when prosecuted for falsifying tax records for Marley’s firm. William Rehnquist, his defense counsel, was appointed by Ronald Reagan as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986.
By the mid-1950s, Jim Hensley controlled one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributorships, a franchise reportedly guided to him by a grateful Marley. By Hensley’s death in April 2000, Hensley & Co. was the nation’s fifth-largest wholesaler of beer with annual sales exceeding $200 million. His daughter Cindy remains the largest shareholder and chairman of the board.
Two decades earlier Jim Hensley hired his son-in-law, John McCain, to manage public relations, a post he quickly vacated to run for Congress. A 1982 gift of $689,000 from a Hensley & Co. affiliate to Cindy McCain enabled the son-in-law to lend his campaign $167,000.
A pre-nuptial agreement ensured that John McCain’s financial records would omit his wife’s fortune. By 2007, her annual income topped $6 million ($16,438 per day). By 2010, her stake in Hensley & Co. was valued at an estimated $200 million.
Producing an Evil Doer
McCain’s mob-saturated political pedigree ensured his assistance with the Savings and Loan fraud of the 1980s. That massive skimming operation was a warm-up for the far larger subprime mortgage fraud—in which McCain acquiesced.
His key role in delaying essential S&L reforms boosted by 50% the taxpayer cost of the bailout. By then, the tally was $153 billion. Ringleader of the corrupt “Keating 5” Senators, McCain not only received $112,000 from Charles Keating, he and his family were routinely guests at a posh Keating retreat in the Bahamas.
In a sweetheart deal, McCain’s mobbed-up in-laws even invested $350,000 in a Keating-backed shopping center. Compare that with the cost imposed on taxpayers when the Keating-led Lincoln Savings & Loan went belly-up. Our tab for that skim: $3.4 billion.
Ever since this syndicate ran him for Congress in 1982, the hand of John McCain has been found on the policy levers whenever organized crime found its way into the taxpayers’ pocket.
The “Sunbelt Mafia” has long been imbedded in Arizona politics. John McCain is widely—and rightly—seen as a reliably pliable politico willing to cooperate. And happy to look the other way whenever a major skim is underway.
The cost to America of another McCain candidacy is unclear. What’s clear is the cost in both blood and treasure when he promoted the fraudulent intelligence that took us to war in Iraq, enabling another massive skim of the U.S. economy.
The future for John McCain is uncertain. The consistency of his behavior ensures his eventual exposure. With exposure, accountability will follow.
Will he plead ignorance or incompetence?
Will he resign and attempt to fade into obscurity? Or will he remain and be disgraced?
Will he escape indictment? Or will informed Americans force him from office?