Saturday, September 13, 2008

McCain's Poor Judgment Then & Now

Cindy McCain's one-time addiction to prescription painkillers is back in the news, as seems inevitable since no skeleton will go unrattled before the November election. But the real story is not a rehash of her agonies. It is John McCain's efforts to make sure that his own exposure to actions that he and his Senate staff abetted was minimized.

Mrs. McCain's abuse of painkillers, which she has said was the result of two back surgeries and stress from Senator McCain's involvement in the Keating Five Scandal, prompted an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration that put her in legal hot water after it was revealed that a physician with her medical charity had improperly supplied her with Vicodin, Percocet and Tylenol 3.

The physician lost his license and has never practiced again, while Mrs. McCain -- who hid her addiction from her husband, who was absent much of the time -- publicly acknowledged her addiction and said that she had reached an agreement with the feds to enter a treatment program in lieu of prosecution. Whether she actually fulfilled the agreement is unclear.

While Mrs. McCain has retold the story of her addiction as a cautionary tail, her husband's role has been murky but nevertheless troublesome.

Enter Tom Gosinski, who worked for the charity and was a McCain family friend. He says that when he discovered Mrs. McCain's addiction that painkiller prescriptions were being written in his name and confronted her, she became angry and fired him.

John McCain then used his political connections to blackball Gosinski from a Republican Party job in Arizona, he says. When Gosinski sued the McCains for being wrongfully fired and went to the DEA to find out the legal repercussions of having prescriptions written in his name, he says McCain further retaliated by having a prosecutor who was a political ally open an extortion investigation against him.

It was in the course of that investigation that it was revealed that the DEA was investigating Mrs. McCain and her charity, and that she was traveling aboard with illegal prescription drugs on a diplomatic passport obtained for her by McCain's Senate office that enabled her to pass through Customs without having her bags searched.

McCain's Senate office was deeply involved in the charity, so it is fair to ask if the senator quashed the DEA investigation to protect his wife and his own reputation. But to no one's surprise, he's not talking.

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