In His Search for Gold, Bob Corbin Found Charles Keating

Why does Bob Corbin, our clownish attorney general, lead such a charmed life?

Five United States senators are currently battling against disgrace because of massive campaign contributions from Charlie Keating, "The Bluebeard of American Finance."

But Corbin, who accepted proportionately greater sums of Keating's largess, remains untouched by criticism.

He continues to be one of Keating's boosters and refuses to see any reason he should return $55,000 he accepted three years ago. He continues to hoard the money, hoping to leave office with it stuffed securely in his pocket.

Recently, while hundreds watched, Corbin bounded from a speaker's platform like a homesick puppy to embrace Keating. It was an embarrassing gesture of obeisance.

Corbin is almost a foot shorter than the six-foot-seven-inch Keating. He could be as tall as Keating only if he put the $55,000 into a wooden box and stood erect upon it.

Corbin has often spoken of his continuing search for the gold buried in "The Lost Dutchman Mine." In light of his discovery of "The Treasure of Sierra Keating," one wonders if Corbin's search for gold has been satisfied.

Under the election rules, if Corbin decides to retire at the end of his current term, he can walk away with the Keating money.

Reporters who deal with Corbin regularly shrug when asked about his favored status with the press.

"Corbin's a nice guy and a great source," they say. "Besides, Bob always returns your phone calls. He'll always give you something."

Doesn't this give anyone reason to wonder?

It's no surprise that Corbin rushed to genuflect before a benefactor of Keating's stature. The $55,000 Keating dumped in his lap is so excessive as to rate a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Especially so, since Corbin was running without opposition for the attorney general's job!

If you want to keep score, Corbin raised only $3,825 from contributors other than Keating. They were mostly in lots of $50 and $100.

What was the payoff, you ask? It's quite clear.

Keating has been able to operate here in Arizona for nearly a decade without the slightest interference from Corbin, the man who runs the agency with the largest number of criminal lawyers in the state.

During that time, Corbin used his swarm of lawyers to protect us from bingo on an Indian reservation and the holiday honoring the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Corbin also led the battle to allow every citizen the right to carry a concealed weapon.

"I've always carried one myself," Corbin said when asked to explain his reasoning.

Corbin also effectively halted the pursuit of the killers of Don Bolles, the ill-fated Arizona Republic reporter. Corbin became incensed at John Harvey Adamson, his best witness, and publicly declared him useless as a witness because no jury would ever believe him.

But that is precisely the point of all this. How will we ever know if a jury will believe Adamson until we empanel one to hear him?

Instead of using Adamson to break the case, he went on a cruel and vengeful crusade to have Adamson put in the gas chamber. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a halt to that, leaving Corbin himself dangling in the wind.

Now, in what are the final days of his administration, Corbin has finally gone to the grand jury with the Bolles case once again. Is this an act of conscience or merely a cover-up?

Corbin has spent the major part of his final term on one project: the destruction of Evan Mecham.

Thanks to the teamwork of the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Public Safety, Mecham was under criminal indictment, a recall election and impeachment, all at the same time.

There was so much confusion at the time that few recall it was Corbin who started all the flap by declaring that the King holiday was illegal and should be rescinded.

Unable to get a jury to convict Mecham, Corbin continues to harass Sam Steiger, the five-time former congressman.

Steiger causes Corbin and his lackeys to bristle because he calls the shots the way he sees them.

Steiger's conviction has now been thrown out twice by the Court of Appeals and now Corbin says he intends to take it to the Supreme Court.

I keep remembering something Steiger said when he went before the judge for sentencing.

"I lied to the attorney general for the same reason I would lie to a stickup man in an alley who asked me if I had any money," Steiger said without batting an eye.

This added to the remarks Steiger had made when he testified before the Senate in the Mecham impeachment.

"Mr. Corbin isn't very bright, but he's a very effective politician," Steiger said. "He's deluded many of you into believing he's a competent person. He administers an agency that under his guidance has become the most expensive of its kind in the United States."

When asked if he thought that Corbin had set up Mecham:

"These people are capable of setting up anybody," Steiger replied.

Here are the Keating people who contributed to Corbin's campaign for attorney general. I have included the amounts donated and their home addresses. Feel free to give them a ring. Ask them why they considered it so necessary to donate such large sums to an attorney general who wasn't even running against anybody?

The list comes, of course, from the Secretary of State's Office.

BRADLEY J. BOLAND gave $2,500. He is Keating's son-in-law, who originally was a top operative on the staff of Senator John McCain. Boland, now a Keating spokesman, is a vice president in land development for Keating. He resides at 2133 East Vermont, Phoenix.

CHARLES H. KEATING JR.--the man himself--gave $10,000. He lives in Paradise Valley, the Bahamas, the Phoenician resort. He has three private jets and a helicopter, and pays himself $1.7 million a year.

MARY E. KEATING gave $2,500. She is one of Keating's daughters and resides at 3123 East Vermont, Phoenix.

MAUREEN KEATING gave $1,000. Another of Keating's daughters, she lives at 6326 North 38th Street, Paradise Valley.

DR. GARY W. HALL gave $2,000. He is another Keating son-in-law. He's also a member of American Continental's board of directors. He lives at 2315 Rancho Drive, Phoenix.

CHARLES H. KEATING III gave $7,500. This is Keating's 34-year-old son, who failed to graduate with his University of Indiana class of 1977. He has risen to chairman of Lincoln Savings and executive vice president of American Continental. Young Keating can afford the donation. His salary and bonuses top $800,000 a year. He lives at 2302 East Bethany Home, Phoenix.

ROBERT J. HUBBARD gave $5,000. He is a lawyer who is vice president of American Continental and a member of its board of directors. He lives at 4723 East Sahuaro, Scottsdale.

ANDRE NEIBLING gave $2,500. Neibling is chairman of the board and a prolific contributor to political candidates. He lives at 6000 Berneil Lane, Paradise Valley.

ROBERT J. KIELTY gave $1,000. Kielty is American Continental's general counsel and senior vice president as well as being a member of the board of directors. He lives at 8714 North 65th Street, Paradise Valley.

MARK A. VOIGT gave $4,000. He is a vice president and a member of the board of directors and lives at 1646 East Orchid Lane, Phoenix.

SHELDON K. WEINER gave $2,500. He is a certified public accountant and a vice president for investments and lives at 5321 East Sahuaro, Scottsdale.

ROBERT WURZELBACHER gave $5,000. He is president of the commercial properties division and a member of the board of directors. He lives at 2214 East Bethany Home, Phoenix.

JUDY AND GEORGE WISCHER gave $3,500. A husband and wife team, Judy is president of American Continental and her salary has been estimated at more than $700,000, and George is on the board of directors. They live at 6216 North 47th Place, Paradise Valley.

TERENCE WILSON gave $5,000. He is director of public relations for the Phoenician resort and lives at 10203 East Caron, Scottsdale.

ROBERT J. HUBBARD JR. gave $5,000. He is a vice president and a member of the board of directors. He lives at 4723 East Sahuaro, Scottsdale.

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Tom Fitzpatrick