Saving Private Interests

John McCain says he wants to save Spur Cross Ranch. Has he really gone Green, or is he just scrounging for greenbacks from a Cincinnati fat cat?

Over the years, Lindner has taken his share of criticism for allegedly manipulating politicians. He is thought to exert a great deal of power over the candidates he supports financially.

In 1994, Ohio's attorney general looked into allegations that Ohio Governor George V. Voinovich was rewarding campaign contributors with state tax breaks and other financial gimmees. A handful of contributors was listed; the centerpiece was Lindner's Great American Life Insurance, which had received $8.6 million in state loans, tax credits and grants. Lindner and members of his family had donated $73,500 to Voinovich's campaign. In the end, the attorney general decided there was insufficient evidence to warrant a full-blown investigation.

Since 1992, Carl Lindner and his family have donated at least $3,000 to John McCain's reelection campaigns. But without a hotly contested senate race since 1986, it's unlikely McCain is looking for money for his local race. If he were to solicit donations from a big contributor like Lindner, it would be for a 2000 presidential run.

That's Carl Lindner's forte.
Lindner was mentioned in a 1996 Frontline episode titled "So You Want to Buy a President?", which focused on Lindner's lobbying efforts on behalf of one of the companies he runs, Chiquita.

In 1993, the European Union had imposed trade barriers designed to boost Caribbean banana growers by blocking sales of bananas grown by American companies, including Chiquita. Chiquita claimed the move had cost it $400 million, but U.S. officials initially balked at acting on the company's behalf because American jobs were not involved.

When the White House finally did decide to act, critics pointed to Lindner's hefty contributions to the Democratic party. Chiquita has denied any quid pro quo.

Neither McCain's nor Lindner's offices answered requests seeking comment for this story.

Whatever the fate of McCain's campaign war chest, at the moment, the fate of the proposed Spur Cross Ranch trade rests with Scottsdale's city council.

The Scottsdale City Council may vote on whether to support the land-trade proposal at a meeting on August 25. As McCain's chief of staff Gullett said, the clock is ticking.

Contact Amy Silverman at her online address:

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