John McCain: Married to the Mob

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    Bob Fertik
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Everyone knows John McCain dumped his first wife and mother of his three children to marry Cindy Lou Hensely, the pretty heir to a beer fortune who could fund his political ambitions - and even attack his opponent's wife.

So how big is Cindy's fortune - and where did it come from? Officially,

Hensley & Company is one of the largest beer distributors in the United States. Hensley & Company's operates exclusively as a wholesaler for Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., controlling the largest contiguous Anheuser-Busch territory in the country.

Hensley & Co. is privately held so its finances are difficult to pinpiont. In 2000, it was the nation's fifth largest beer wholesaler, earning over $200 million a year. Cindy held over 37% of the company, and their four children held 24%.

So it's natural to ask: how was the Hensley fortune built? According to a 2000 investigation in the Phoenix New Times,

The Hensley saga... swirls with bygone accounts of illicit booze, gambling, horse racing, deceit and crime.

The story by investigative reporters Amy Silverman and John Dougherty is riveting - and remarkably untouched by the Corporate Media, even though it involves the car-bomb murder of a top reporter at the Arizona Republic named Don Bolles.

Jerome Corsi - a rightwinger who co-authored the infamous and election-changing Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry - summarizes the Hensley saga and its extensive ties to the Mob:

the father of McCain's wife, James Hensley, was convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court of Arizona in March 1948 on seven counts of filing false liquor records. Hensley also was charged with conspiracy to hide from federal authorities the names of persons involved in a liquor industry racket with two companies he managed, United Sales Company in Phoenix and United Distributors in Tucson.

The umbrella company, United Liquor, at that time held a monopoly in Arizona, organized and managed by Kemper Marley, who was accused of mob ties by a reporter who was murdered in 1977.

Silverman and Dougherty report that by 1955, Hensley had launched a Budweiser distributorship in Phoenix, "a franchise reportedly bestowed upon him by Marley, who was never indicted in the 1948 liquor-law-violation case – or a subsequent one – despite his controlling role in the liquor distribution businesses."

According to Marley's longtime public relations man, Al Lizanetz, the Marley liquor empire was founded by the Bronfman family dynasty of Canada which operated Allied Finance Company, Northern Export Company and Distillers Corporation – the Seagrams, Ltd. empire.

As chronicled by the "Rumrunners and Prohibition" video shown popularly on the History Channel, during the 1920s, the Bronfman family made millions in bootlegging, accounting for half the illegal liquor crossing the border, working in a profitable distribution deal with the infamous mobster Meyer Lansky, who later moved on to establish the crime syndicates in the casinos of Havana, Cuba, in the 1940s and 50s.

Arizona in the 1970s drew a "who's who" of organized crime figures seeking to retire in the sun, including Rochester, N.Y., mob boss Joe Bonanno, who spent his last days along the Lake Havasu shores and in a quiet home in Tucson.

In 1977, after Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was killed when his car was blown up by the mob in a parking lot, a team of 36 journalists from 27 news organizations, known as IRE, published an 80,000 word 23-part series on organized crime in Arizona.

Dan Nowicki and Bill Muller, reporting in the Arizona Republic March 1, 2007, documented that in 1953, Hensley was again charged with falsifying records at Marley's liquor firms.

Hensley was found not guilty after being defended by William Rehnquist, the future chief justice of the Supreme Court, Nowicki and Muller wrote.

William Rehnquist's rise to power within the GOP isn't well known, and his ties to Hensley aren't even mentioned in Wikipedia. He got his start in brass-knuckle Rovian politics by suppressing black and hispanic votes in Phoenix and rose to be corrupt Attorney General John Mitchell's lawyer during Watergate. Nixon put him on the Supreme Court as the first real rightwinger, later to be joined by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and replaced by John Roberts. Rehnquist presided over the impeachment trial of President Clinton and appointed George Bush president in 2000 after Bush lost both the popular vote both nationally and in Florida.

Hensley's mob ties aren't a secret - they are documented in court papers and investigative reporting. But just like Bush's family scandals dating back to his grandfather Prescott's criminal dealings with the Nazis, McCain's family scandals are blacked out by the Corporate Media.

The Corporate Media blackout of the Hensley family fortune is especially suprising because it included the murder of reporter Don Bolles of the Arizona Republic, the largest newspaper in the state. In 2004, John Dougherty explained the blackout to Amy Goodman:

The Hensley family was involved with some of the most notorious—at least on the sides—some of the most notorious crimes committed in the state of Arizona, primarily the bombing and murder of Arizona Republic reporter, Don Bolles, and it’s on the edge, but it’s there. The key guy in the Hensley empire was a guy named Kemper Marley. Kemper Marley was a liquor magnate. He controlled a lot of the land in central Arizona. Marley was implicated-–—never charged—in the murder of Bolles, and it was Marley who basically gave the liquor franchise to Hensley back in the 1950’s, and that built their empire from there.

AMY GOODMAN: Why would he want Bolles killed?

JOHN DOUGHERTY:They wanted Bolles killed supposedly because Bolles was writing a series of stories that were very critical of Kemper Marley, and Kemper Marley wanted to get a key position on the racing commission in the state of Arizona. This was back in 1976.

AMY GOODMAN: I remember when journalists got together to investigate Bolles death, ’cause it was the killing of a journalist in this country, and did a series of pieces. It was—

JOHN DOUGHERTY:Yeah, it was the founding project for the Investigative Reporters and Editors. It was a major, major effort that came out here, and it uncovered massive amount of scandal in Arizona from across the board in the political system as well as in the police department, and in a number of other issues; and, ironically, the Arizona Republic, which was the paper Don Bolles worked for, refused to run the story because the I.R.E. was critical of Senator Goldwater and his family as well. It never ran in the Arizona Republic. It’s pretty amazing.

America paid a terrible price in blood, treasure, corruption, and scandal for the Corporate Media blackout of Bush's family scandals. Will we remain ignorant of McCain's - or will this story get the coverage it deserves?

In 2000, the blogosphere was in its infancy and the exhaustive efforts of and our allies to expose Bush's scandals (especially the Bush-Nazi connection and Bush's desertion from the Texas Air National Guard) were totally ignored.

But now we have huge blogs like HuffingtonPost, DailyKos, FireDogLake, TalkingPointsMemo, AlterNet, RawStory, CrooksAndLiars, and Hullabaloo which can push unreported stories into national consciousness. In fact TPM just won a prestigious Polk Award for doggedly putting the overlooked U.S. Attorney scandal on the national map and ultimately forcing Alberto Gonzales to resign. We also have Air America Radio, Democracy Now, INN World Reports, The Real News, and other radio/TV outlets.

So will the progressive media help America discover that John McCain is married to the mob?

Stay tuned...