InBev Deal Could Be Tricky for McCains « The Washington Independent
Albuquerque, N.M. — The $52 billion purchase of Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, by the Belgian-owned InBev SA could cause some headaches for the McCains. Sen. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, is the chairwoman of Hensley & Co., the nation’s third-largest Anheuser-Busch distributor, and the exclusive dealer in the Phoenix-area. Cindy’s late father, James Hensley, founded the company. John McCain’s son from his first marriage, Andy, is now the firm’s chief financial officer.
As The Caucus notes, Cindy and her family own two-thirds of Hensley, which, in turn, owns at least $1 million in Anheuser-Busch stock. After doing the math, Hensley would reap a $1 million to $2 million windfall from the InBev deal, and two-thirds of that would go to the McCain family. Not bad.
This could be problematic for the McCain campaign in two ways. First, McCain has been railing against Sen. Barack Obama’s calls to raise the capital-gains tax — which taxes stock dividends. The capital-gains tax rate was lowered to 15 percent as part of President George W. Bush’s 2003 tax cut package — which McCain at first opposed strongly but now supports extending. Common sense dictates that Cindy McCain will not cash out her Anheuser-Busch stock while her husband is on the campaign trail talking about capital gains, but the appearance of personal gain from McCain’s favored policies still remains. Later today, McCain is scheduled to visit St. Louis — home of Anheuser-Busch — where he plans to talk to local media and attend a fund-raiser. The InBev deal will surely be a topic of interest to reporters there.
Second, and perhaps more important, the enormous windfall is a stark reminder that the McCains are fantastically wealthy. This flies in the face of the image the McCains have been promoting on the stump — that they are an ordinary couple, in touch with the economic concerns of working-class families.