By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
The expense records that became the basis of those stories were obtained by the Voice after a long Freedom of Information battle. Harding, who won his patronage plum from Giuliani in 1998 to head the housing agency, had lawyers there claim for over a year that his records were lost. After he left the agency, new officials released them. They show that Harding had a wild fling that week, spending some $13,000 of his agency's dough. He shelled out $936 for a helicopter ride, and splurged $7,000 at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he and another official from his housing agency stayed. The records show that he was in Las Vegas from at least November 12, 2000, and spent $424 on a room reservation at the Bellagio on November 16, around the time that the McCains would have gotten to town. The room payment was later credited back to Harding's city credit card.
There is also a $2,826 Bellagio charge that Harding listed on his expenses as a "room reservation" for the trade show. The charge was made on November 18, which would have been around the time that, according to the blog, Harding, Carbonetti, Dorrian, and the McCains enjoyed a long dinner at the Prime Steakhouse—which is in the Bellagio. Harding describes McCain, over "apéritifs," musing over the fiasco then unfolding in Florida.
One source familiar with the trip, who asked not to be identified, confirms that McCain was with Carbonetti, Dorrian, and Harding at the tables in the Bellagio casino. The source confirms one of the blog's contentions, that McCain considered Dorrian to be a kind of good-luck charm, and wanted her to toss the dice herself. "McCain wanted Carol Dorrian to throw the dice," the source said. "He was convinced she was lucky."
Weaver, who put McCain and Carbonetti in touch, said he has no idea what happened once McCain got to Las Vegas. "I know that John and Cindy went out there, but I have a hard time believing everything Russell Harding says. That doesn't mean he's wrong, either. I just don't know. I wasn't there."