A whistleblower says that John McCain involved members of his Senate staff in Cindy McCain’s troubled medical charity, while his wife was stealing narcotics from the charity and cruising through airport security with a diplomatic passport.  The whistleblower, Tom Gosinski, was fired by Cindy McCain after he expressed concerns about her addiction to painkillers and her penchant for writing prescriptions in other people’s names.

Gosinski went public about the drug-fueled implosion of the American Voluntary Medical Team several years ago and what he claims was retaliation by the McCains for blowing the whistle. Arizona investigative journalist Amy Silverman reported on the McCain drug scandal in 1994.

What’s new is Gosinski’s allegation that McCain’s senate staffers may have facilitated Cindy McCain’s misbehavior by granting her a diplomatic passport. (In the video, Gosinski describes the coordination between AVMT and McCain’s staff.)

Matt Stoller, who spoke with Gosinski yesterday, elaborates:

McCain’s Senate staff and Senate resources were intimately involved in Cindy’s work with the charity. John McCain procured her a diplomatic passport, which meant that her bags were not searched by customs, and Mark Salter and Torie Clarke were both coordinating with Gosinski on logistics for the trips abroad.

Gosinksi informed the Drug Enforcement Agency that Cindy was writing prescriptions in his name in 1993. It turned out that the Mrs. McCain and her charity were already on the DEA’s radar. John McCain claims he didn’t know his wife was an addict during the period she was ferrying drugs around the world with impunity because of the diplomatic passport he secured for her. However, it’s likely that John McCain knew about Cindy’s addiction as far back as 1991, when she did her first stint in rehab at a clinic in Wickenburg, AZ.

We know that John McCain managed the scandal aggressively, making full use of his contacts in the media break Cindy’s story as a touching tale of recovery and redemption (as opposed to a sordid tale of theft and vengeance). Cindy went public with her addiction in front of a hand picked group of Arizona journalist, just as Silverman and the Phoenix New Times were about to expose the AVMT scandal. Cindy’s addiction began to spiral out of control in 1992 and but McCain didn’t go public until 1994.

Behind the scenes, the McCains and their lawyers and surrogates were doing their best to neutralize Gosinski. John McCain even convinced a county attorney friend of his to investigate Gosinski for extortion. Gosinski says the allegation was frivolous.

"We believe that Mr. Gosinski is aware that in the past Cindy had an addiction to prescription painkillers. . . . Given Cindy’s public position, exposure of this sensitive matter would harm her reputation, career, the operation of AVMT, and subject her to contempt and ridicule," McCain’s attorney wrote in a letter to the county attorney, a copy of which was obtained by the New Times.

Nothing ever came of the investigation.

McCain has a history of using his political connections to help his friends. McCain was one of the Keating Five, five politicians who agreed to meet with bank regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, the owner of a floundering savings and loan. The meeting was an attempt to get regulators to slow walk the investigation into the failed savings and loan. Keating was a longtime friend and campaign supporter of McCains. Keating even hosted the McCains on tropical vacations, which McCain didn’t report until years later.

Despite McCain’s best efforts, Keating eventually went to jail. Cindy McCain, however, was spared that indignity. Prescription forgery is just one of the serious crimes that she committed to feed her drug habit. Today, Cindy doesn’t even have a criminal record because she successfully completed a court-ordered diversion program arranged by the US Attorney’s Office. So, the feds treated Cindy with kid gloves and the State of Arizona doesn’t appear to have taken any interest in her illegal prescriptions–even though at least one Arizona physician lost his license over the scam.

Did John McCain have to pull some strings at the DEA and/or the State of Arizona in order to secure such a favorable outcome?

A whistleblower says that John McCain involved members of his Senate staff in Cindy McCain’s troubled medical charity, while his wife was stealing narcotics from the charity and cruising through airport security with a diplomatic passport. The whistleblower, Tom Gosinski, was fired by Cindy McCain after he expressed concerns about her addiction to painkillers and her penchant for writing prescriptions in other people’s names.

Gosinski went public about the drug-fueled implosion of the American Voluntary Medical Team several years ago and what he claims was retaliation by the McCains for blowing the whistle. Arizona investigative journalist Amy Silverman reported on the McCain drug scandal in 1994.

What’s new is Gosinski’s allegation that McCain’s senate staffers may have facilitated Cindy McCain’s misbehavior by granting her a diplomatic passport. (In the video, Gosinski describes the coordination between AVMT and McCain’s staff.)

Matt Stoller, who spoke with Gosinski yesterday, elaborates:

McCain’s Senate staff and Senate resources were intimately involved in Cindy’s work with the charity. John McCain procured her a diplomatic passport, which meant that her bags were not searched by customs, and Mark Salter and Torie Clarke were both coordinating with Gosinski on logistics for the trips abroad.

Gosinksi informed the Drug Enforcement Agency that Cindy was writing prescriptions in his name in 1993. It turned out that the Mrs. McCain and her charity were already on the DEA’s radar. John McCain claims he didn’t know his wife was an addict during the period she was ferrying drugs around the world with impunity with the diplomatic passport he secured for her. However, it’s likely that John McCain knew about Cindy’s addiction as far back as 1991, when she did her first stint in rehab at a clinic in Wickenburg, AZ.

We know that John McCain managed the scandal aggressively, making full use of his contacts in the media break Cindy’s story as a touching tale of recovery and redemption (as opposed to a sordid tale of theft and vengeance). Cindy went public with her addiction in front of a hand picked group of Arizona journalists, just as Silverman and the Phoenix New Times were about to blow the AVMT scandal wide open. Note that Cindy’s addiction began to spiral out of control in 1992 but McCain didn’t go public until 1994.

Behind the scenes, the McCains and their lawyers and surrogates were doing their best to neutralize Gosinski. John McCain even convinced a county attorney friend of his to investigate Gosinski for extortion. Gosinski says the allegation was frivolous.

"We believe that Mr. Gosinski is aware that in the past Cindy had an addiction to prescription painkillers. . . . Given Cindy’s public position, exposure of this sensitive matter would harm her reputation, career, the operation of AVMT, and subject her to contempt and ridicule," McCain’s attorney wrote in a letter to the county attorney, a copy of which was obtained by the New Times.

Nothing ever came of the investigation.

McCain has a history of using his political connections to help his friends. McCain was one of the Keating Five, five politicians who agreed to meet with bank regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, the owner of a floundering savings and loan. The meeting was an attempt to get regulators to slow walk the investigation into the failed savings and loan. Keating was a longtime friend and campaign supporter of McCains. Keating even hosted the McCains on tropical vacations, which McCain didn’t report until years later.

Despite McCain’s best efforts, Keating eventually went to jail. Cindy McCain, however, was spared that indignity. Prescription forgery is just one of the serious crimes that she committed to feed her drug habit. Today, Cindy doesn’t even have a criminal record because she successfully completed a court-ordered diversion program arranged by the US Attorney’s Office. So, the feds treated Cindy with kid gloves and the State of Arizona doesn’t appear to have taken any interest in her illegal prescriptions–even though at least one Arizona physician lost his license over the scam.

Did John McCain have to pull some strings at the DEA and/or the State of Arizona in order to secure such a favorable outcome?

Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein