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Keating Firm Raises $50K for McCain

Here’s something that slipped under the radar yesterday.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan organization that tracks money in elections, employees of a law firm founded by Charles Keating Jr. have bundled more than $50,000 in contributions to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.

In amounts ranging from $200 to $2,300, about 30 partners and employees of the legal firm Keating, Muething and Klekamp, as well as their family members, have contributed $50,200 to McCain’s 2008 campaign. All but two of the contributions came in July, and all but three of those July donations were logged on July 31, suggesting they were delivered at the same time. As with any bundle of campaign contributions, it’s difficult to determine which donor was the “bundler,” the person who solicited the contributions on the campaign’s behalf. McCain’s online roster of bundlers, which purports to name any individual bundling $50,000 or more for the campaign, does not associate any of McCain’s major fund-raisers with the Keating firm.

McCain and Keating were forever linked by the “Keating Five” corruption scandal during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s. McCain and four other lawmakers were accused of improperly interfering with federal banking regulators investigating Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan Assn., which ultimately failed — costing the federal government and investors billions of dollars. Keating spent more than four years in prison as a result.

Keating was a major campaign contributor to each of the five legislators. During the scandal, it became known that McCain had taken several trips at Keating’s expense — including vacations to Keating’s home in the Bahamas, which McCain later paid for. McCain was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee, though the committee reprimanded him for exercising poor judgment.

While there is certainly nothing improper about McCain receiving contributions from individuals at Keating’s firm, it is a reminder of McCain’s past ethics problems — before he styled himself a maverick reformer. The scandal has hardly been mentioned this election cycle; but it does remain an arrow in the Democrats’ quiver if or, perhaps more likely, when things get ugly.

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