By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
Today, Bradley's list of advisors is replete with leveraged buyout adepts, including Chandler; Joseph H. Flom of Skadden, Arps, and a major fundraiser for Bill Clinton; Louis B. Susman of Salomon Smith Barney; and John W. Jordan II of Jordan Industries, Inc., which deals in junk bonds and leveraged bailouts. All have contributed to Bradley's campaign, Lewis reveals.
What Lewis is portraying here is a picture of Bradley as a personable Wall Street tout. His interest in the plight of so-called ordinary people may well turn out to be a facade for a shrewd Wall Street con. Or is he just another sucker for the high-flying finance crowd?
Bradley isn't the only one to get raked over the coals by Lewis. Al Gore, for example, is revealed to be a yo-yo of Occidental Petroleum. Occidental's late chairman, the eccentric Armand Hammer, used to boast that he had the senator's late father, Senator Albert Gore Sr., "in his back pocket." When the elder Gore left the Senate, Hammer hired him as an Occidental consultant for $500,000 a year. And according to Lewis, Gore Jr. still gets $20,000 a year from a land deal put together by his father and Hammer. The Occidental chairman carried on a cordial relationship with the younger Gore all through the '80s, with campaign contributions and numerous trips aboard his personal jet.
Although Gore gets off as a big-time environmentalist, the book reports that the vice president asked Clinton to approve leasing oil on two big oil reserves held under the navy's control since 1912Teapot Dome near Casper, Wyoming, and Elk Hills in Bakersfield, California. And in October 1997 the Energy Department announced the government would sell 47,000 acres of the Elk Hills field to Occidental. The deal tripled Occidental's U.S. oil reserves, and amounted to the largest privatization of U.S. property in history.
The story doesn't stop there. Theoretically, the Energy Department was required to assess the environmental consequences of the deal, but instead it hired a private company, ICF Kaiser International, to make the assessment. As it turned out, Tony Coehlo, the head of Gore's campaign and big-time campaign fundraiser for the Democratic Party, sat on the Kaiser board.
Lewis also unveils Senator John McCain's ties to the beer business. Cindy Hensley, John McCain's wife, is heir to a big beer-distributorship fortune. Hensley & Co., started by her father, James, in 1955, now is the largest Anheuser-Busch distributor in the state and one of the country's biggest beer distributors. While McCain was positioning himself to get into politics, Cindy's dad gave him a PR job at the companyand the Hensley family has always been a sponsor of his political career. They are McCain's second-largest "career patron." Cindy is vice president and director of the Hensley company.
According to Lewis's book, beer interests have given McCain at least $161,000 since 1982. And that doesn't include thousands in beer-related speaking fees that McCain has donated to charity, nor free travel provided McCain by Anheuser-Busch. Most of the personal wealth of the Hensleys and McCain's children is in Anheuser-Busch stock.
McCain has recognized the potential for conflict of interest with beer-related matters and pledged to recuse himself when it comes to beer. But there are so many issues involving beer coming before his Commerce Committee that this is difficult to do, and, in fact, he has rarely taken a stand against the beer industry. While he supports regulating tobacco and violence on TV, McCain sidestepped a controversy over where liquor companies should advertise on television. His committee scheduled hearings on liquor advertising in 1997, but never held them. Beer industry lobbyists worked hard to sever beer from the hearings because they feared beer would fall under liquor-advertising restrictions. The hearings never took place.
In jumping aboard the Bush bandwagon with high hopes of becoming his vice presidential candidate, Elizabeth Dole became an instant groupie, blabbering he is "my kind of conservative," and gushing that we must "innovate not regulate . . . that is compassion you can put in the bank" and that "those who know [Bush] best, admire him most." Then she got serious, warning that "rogue nations threaten their neighbors," declaring we dare not think of America as a "medieval castle sheltering within its moat," when "China and Russia pose their own inscrutable challenges." "Elizabeth," responded Bush, "You always said you were a lieutenant in Ronald Reagan's army. I'm proud to have you as a general."