Keating: "Certainly hoped" he Bought Influence with McCain

Charles Keating on ABC Nightline, May 14, 1990: certainly hoped that the money he gave Sen. John McCain and other politicians influence them to take up his cause.

‘ TED KOPPEL: [voice-over] It’s been called the biggest financial mess in U.S. history: the savings and loan disaster that’s left taxpayers holding the bag for an estimated $250 billion. And this is the man who’s accused of responsibility for the single most expensive S&L failure of them all. Charles Keating and his family are accused of looting the Lincoln Savings & Loan Association of more than $1 billion. He says the federal government itself is responsible for his misfortune. . .

WALKER: [voice-over] Take a 50-minute drive outside Phoenix, and you’ll find another Keating extravaganza called Estrella. Keating spent $133 million of Lincoln’s money, again, federally insured dollars, to buy this 17,000-acre development that was supposed to become a city for 250,000 people. But while he built two lakes, installed some roads and water lines, the development remains largely the home of cactus and jackrabbits. How come?

Mr. KEATING: It was beautiful, everything was in place, we had builders, we had custom lots being sold. In walks the federal government, and look what happens. You can see all around you where trees have died, the grounds aren’t being kept up. And there’s nothing wrong with Estrella, had we been permitted to build it out. There’s nothing wrong with any of these developments. They took them away and ruined them.

WALKER: [voice-over] Despite Keating’s determination to blame Uncle Sam for Estrella’s problems, federal officials who studied the Phoenix-Tucson real estate market in 1987 concluded it would take 40 years to sell all the houses that Lincoln S&L was proposing to build. But Keating was never one to look back. When the federal regulators began turning up the heat on him in 1986, he turned to the so-called Keating Five for help: United States Senators DeConcini, McCain, Riegle, Cranston and Glenn. Keating’s contributions either directly or indirectly to the five senators totaled $1.3 million. What did he expect in return?

Mr. KEATING: [KPNX, April, 1989] One question among the many raised in recent weeks had to do with whether my financial support in any way influenced several political figures who took up my cause. I want to say in the most forceful way that I can, I certainly hope so.’

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