It is no longer fashionable in local journalistic circles to mention McCain's close friendship with Charlie Keating. It's a shame they had a falling out. They seemed to have so much in common and enjoyed each other's company so much.

They met in 1981 when McCain moved to Arizona. Keating was a World War II pilot. McCain made nine vacation trips to Keating's home in the Bahamas from 1984 to 1986. The trips were made free of charge on jets provided by Keating.

Because the ethical violation was so obvious, McCain was eventually forced to pay $13,433 for the flights to Keating's company, American Continental Corporation.

He escaped ethical censure because the trips were made while he was a member of the House of Representatives and the trips didn't come to light until he was a member of the Senate, which conveniently declared it had no jurisdiction.

The House couldn't act, either, for the same reason.
Keating contributed $112,000 to McCain's 1982 and 1984 House campaigns and his 1986 Senate run. McCain's father-in-law and his wife also took advantage of the chance to make a lucrative shopping-center investment with Keating.

McCain was also a great friend of then-Arizona Republic publisher Duke Tully, who was thought to be a former Marine pilot. The two men used to go over to Luke Air Force Base and fly jet planes together. Tully became the godfather to McCain's child.

When it turned out that Tully never served in the Marines, it provoked a delightful local scandal.

Tully went into exile and McCain had nothing further to do with him. When it became apparent Keating was about to fall, McCain quickly cut ties with him, too.

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