Supreme Court should have listened to Charles Keating

April 9, 2014 

Obit-Charles Keating

Charles Keating Jr., shown in a courtroom in Los Angeles in 1990, was convicted in state and federal courts on charges of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy, and when those charges were overturned, he ultimately pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

NICK UT — 1991 Associated Press file photo

One wonders if the U.S. Supreme Court justices who — naively or perversely — voted to remove limitations on aggregate campaign contributions by an individual read the New York Times obituary of Charles Keating Jr.

Keating was a leading figure in the savings and loan disaster of the late 1980s and early '90s, when, as the Times put it, "a thousand institutions collapsed in an implosion of reckless investments."

Keating made huge donations to candidates for Congress and in turn got them to pressure the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to lay off his savings and loan.

Again, the Times: "The board backed off, with disastrous results for depositors and investors."

Keating didn't see those contributions as an exercise of "an individual's right to participate in the electoral process," as the court majority so delicately put it.

The Times wrote, "Asked once whether his payments to politicians had worked, he told reporters, 'I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so.'"

John McCain, one of the senators who, much to his regret, got caught up with Keating, spoke from experience last week when he bemoaned the future ushered in by the court's decision. "There will be scandal. There's too much money washing around."

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