MSNBC's Tamron Hall asserted that Sen. John McCain "was accused of corruption, although he was later cleared by a Senate committee" in the Keating Five scandal. But Hall did not note that the Senate ethics committee concluded that McCain's conduct "reflected poor judgment."
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During the October 6 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Tamron Hall asserted that Sen. John McCain "was accused of corruption, although he was later cleared by a Senate committee" following a Senate investigation into allegations that McCain -- along with four Democratic senators, together called the Keating Five -- had exerted improper influence when they met with federal bank regulators on behalf of financier Charles H. Keating Jr., a major McCain donor and fundraiser. But Hall did not note that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics concluded that McCain's conduct "reflected poor judgment."
As The New York Times reported, Keating "gave Mr. McCain free rides on his private jet, a violation of Congressional ethics rules (he later said it was an oversight and paid for the trips). They vacationed together in the Bahamas. And in 1986, the year Mr. McCain was elected to the Senate, his wife joined Mr. Keating in investing in an Arizona shopping mall."
McCain himself admitted to "errors of judgment" in his interactions with Keating. From his memoir, Worth the Fighting For:
I began a few days later, in Phoenix, where I held an exhaustive press conference with any and all reporters interested in talking to me about the subject. As it turned out, quite a few were interested. Three days earlier, the government watchdog group Common Cause formally filed a complaint with the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee, urging an investigation of the legality of Charlie Keating's campaign contributions to the Keating Five. It was, as far as I can determine, Common Cause that first labeled us the Keating Five, but the term was quickly picked up by virtually anyone who had something to say about the controversy, complicating my efforts to ensure that the actions of each of us were judged individually. We were now a two-word shorthand for the entire savings and loan debacle and the rotten way American political campaigns are financed.
The press conference lasted nearly two hours. In my opening statement, I admitted to paying insufficient attention to the appearance of my actions, to the late reimbursement to ACC, and to various other errors of judgment. But I steadfastly maintained that I had not abused my office "to aid any individual improperly." That was the truth, and I laid out the facts of the case to support it. The questions were various, some hostile, others not, but eventually all questions that could be conceived to explore the depth of my involvement were asked and honestly answered. It was the first step toward my political recovery. There was still a long, difficult, depressing road ahead of me before I could begin to imagine that I might someday be known as something other than a member of the Keating Five. But my candor with the press immediately began to help. [Pages 192-193]
Additionally, a March 1, 2007, Arizona Republic article quoted McCain saying of the Senate investigation, "I was judged eventually, after three years, of using, quote, poor judgment, and I agree with that assessment."
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the October 6 edition of MSNBC Live:
HALL: And on a day when the Dow tumbles, once again, political headlines are full of references to decades-old stories like Bill Ayers and the Keating Five, and this comes after John McCain's campaign signaled it wanted to turn the page on the economic crisis and focus instead on Barack Obama's character. Earlier today, Governor [Sarah] Palin once again tried to push a personal connection between Obama and '60s radical Bill Ayers.
PALIN [video clip]: I'm afraid this is someone who sees American as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.
HALL: The Associated Press says her charge is a stretch, and the Obama campaign is accusing Republicans of using smears to try and distract voters from the real issues, but they've also chosen to fight fire with fire, pointing supporters to a new Web documentary outlining McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal. At the time, McCain was accused of corruption, although he was later cleared by a Senate committee.
[video clip from Obama Web documentary]
SEN. HOWELL HEFLIN (D-AL, former chairman of Senate ethics committee): Many of our fellow citizens apparently believe that your services were bought by Charles Keating.
WILLIAM K. BLACK (former senior federal savings and loan regulator): The Keating Five involved all the things that have brought the modern crisis.
[end video clip]
HALL: All of this coming just a day before McCain and Obama will take to the stage in Tennessee for the second presidential debate.