Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has traveled to the Republican presidential nomination on what he and his media acolytes call the Straight Talk Express.
But now his campaign's unwillingness to answer questions about $9,200 in total donations from one tainted Oregon donor shows the Express—named for McCain's professed commitment to honesty and integrity—is badly in need of a course correction.
Last week, WW reported McCain's campaign got $9,200 from Craig Berkman, a former Oregon Republican Party chairman (see "Craig's List," July 9, 2008). Last month, years after Berkman admitted mishandling investors' money and then lying to them about it, a Multnomah County jury ordered Berkman to repay investors $28 million, an amount far exceeding his current assets.
Translation? Every cent that went to McCain and other GOP causes (totaling $50,000 when including his wife's contributions) is a penny that doesn't go toward repaying Berkman's victims. In terms the prowar McCain should be able to understand: It's just like our country's current predicament in Iraq. Every dollar spent on the $3 trillion Iraq war is a dollar that doesn't go toward taking care of pressing issues at home.
Yet when WW asked the McCain campaign in Oregon if it planned to return Berkman's money, the answer (after six attempts to get one) was "no comment." It's not as if McCain would be blazing a new trail here. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) returned $850,000 to Norman Hsu and his co-conspirators in 2007 after a 15-year-old fraud case hit the news and reporters revealed Hsu's status as a fugitive.
By comparison, the $9,200 Berkman gave McCain is bubkes. It should be all the easier to give it back.