Friday, May 09, 2008

John McCain, Just Another Senator On The Take

John McCain has been coasting by in the media on his "maverick" image. What "maverick" means though, I have no idea. If he was a rare reformer in the Republican party, the truth has washed those notions away like an August monsoon storm in Arizona. Speaking of Arizona and John McCain, the Washington Post found an interesting connection between the Senator, rancher Fred Ruskin and a Mr. Steven Betts. Their relationship is another example that McCain is just another Senator willing to screw the land he comes from in order to make a wealthy friend richer.

From The Washington Post:

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- Sen. John McCain championed legislation that will let an Arizona rancher trade remote grassland and ponderosa pine forest here for acres of valuable federally owned property that is ready for development, a land swap that now stands to directly benefit one of his top presidential campaign fundraisers].[...]

Although the bill called for the two parcels to be of equal value, a federal forestry official told a congressional committee that he was concerned that "the public would not receive fair value" for its land. A formal appraisal has not yet begun. A town official opposed to the swap said other Yavapai Ranch land sold nine years ago for about $2,000 per acre, while some of the prime commercial land near a parcel that the developers will get has brought as much as $120,000 per acre.

In an interview, Betts said there is "absolutely no" connection between his contributions to McCain's presidential bids and the deal involving rancher Fred Ruskin and the Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership. While his company's possible involvement was discussed casually before the bill's passage, Betts said SunCor did not sign on to the project until afterward. "At no time during the consideration of this legislation was there any involvement by officials of SunCor," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said in a written response to questions [read the campaign's full answers].

Betts is among a string of donors who have benefited from McCain-engineered land swaps. In 1994, the senator helped a lobbyist for land developer Del Webb Corp. pursue an exchange in the Las Vegas area, according to the Center for Public Integrity. McCain sponsored two bills, in 1991 and 1994, sought by donor Donald R. Diamond that yielded the developer thousands of acres in trade for national parkland.

Obviously wealthier campaign contributors mean more to McCain than the pristine lands of his homestate. I used to live in the Grand Canyon State and driving between towns and cities, it is incredible to see the amount of development, from Sierra Vista and Tucson in the Southeast, Prescott and Flagstaff in the North and the behemoth that is the Phoenix metro area in the center. It is bad enough that this type of growth is sucking the water resources of the state dry. What makes it worse is that McCain is willing to do it for campaign contributions (whether or not Mr. Betts denies it).

Some maverick, I'd be more inclined to call him "sell-out."