Longform

Opiate for the Mrs.

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The aforementioned matters are of great concern to those directly involved but my main concern is the ability of AVMT to survive a major shake-up. If the DEA were to ever conduct an audit of AVMT's inventory, I am afraid of what the results might be. . . . It is because of CHM's willingness to jeopardize the credibility of those that work for her that I truly worry.

During my short tenure at AVMT I have been surrounded by what on the surface appears to be the ultimate all-American family. In reality, I am working for a very sad, lonely woman whose marriage of convenience to a U.S. Senator has driven her to: distance herself from friends; cover feelings of despair with drugs; and replace lonely moments with self-indulgences.

As Gosinski observed in a September entry, the journal soon evolved into a "bitch pad" for his complaints about Cindy McCain. He also wrote at length of his concern for her well-being.

The journal entries don't tell the whole story. But certainly they add depth, providing glimpses of life with a drug-addled boss, and identifying previously unmentioned doctors who were associated with AVMT and who were drawn in--unwittingly or otherwise--to Cindy McCain's illicit activities.

Until now, Gosinski has not spoken on the record to the press. It has taken months of cajoling, Cindy McCain's public admission and the release of documents relating to the extortion investigation to convince him to open up.

Even now, he is nervous. He shows up at New Times over the weekend with an old friend at his side as a "comfort blanket." He won't sit for a portrait, although he had agreed to do so just days before. He's looking for a better job, he says, so he doesn't want his face on the cover.

And the county attorney's extortion investigation is ongoing. Although Gosinski is certain he has done nothing wrong--in fact, he may be one of the few in this story who hasn't--he also knows that might not mean much.

At 36, Gosinski is of medium build and below-average height. He's clean-shaven, with brown eyes, bristly brown hair. He knits his brow constantly, making deep grooves between the eyes. He laughs a lot, mostly from nerves, and wears a baseball cap with the hapless Wile E. Coyote embroidered on it. The cap matches his outfit: long-sleeved, hunter-green button-down and faded Pepe jeans. He's a hip, polished, well-spoken, conservative Republican.

His roots are in small-town Nebraska. Although he'd originally planned to study music, Gosinski majored in organizational communications at Concordia College in Minnesota, because he thought he'd earn a better living.

He moved to Phoenix "on a lark" 12 years ago and got a job with America West Airlines as a customer service representative. He worked his way up to middle management and a position in the airline's governmental and international affairs office. It was while he was in that post that he met Cindy McCain.

That was in 1991, and Desert Storm had just rumbled through Kuwait. McCain had asked America West for a government charter to take AVMT to aid war victims. As a reward for his assistance, she invited Gosinski along. He jumped at the chance.

When the plane touched down at noon in Kuwait City, the smoke was so thick the streetlights were on. The heat was searing. The AVMT crew slept on hospital floors and cots. Cindy McCain was a hard worker, Gosinski recalls. She slept in the hallway, lugged boxes and tended children with the rest of the volunteers.

Close friendships were formed, particularly because of the danger, Gosinski says. "People were still stepping on land mines. People were still being shot."

After Kuwait, McCain invited Gosinski on another trip--this time to Washington, D.C., to receive thanks from Vice President Dan Quayle and dine at the McCains' Alexandria home.

The day Gosinski met Quayle, America West Airlines filed for bankruptcy, and Gosinski fretted about his future. He stayed in touch with Cindy McCain and AVMT.

That September 1991, he quit America West and began working full-time as AVMT's first director of government and international affairs. Annual salary: $48,000.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.
Jeremy Voas