Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cindy McCain's drug addiction

I'm not sure what to say about this story. From The

WASHINGTON -- When Cindy McCain is asked what issues she would champion if she became first lady, she often cites one of the most difficult periods of her life: her battle with -- and ultimate victory over -- prescription painkillers. Her struggle, she has said repeatedly, taught her valuable lessons about drug abuse that she would pass on to the nation.

"I think it made me a better person as well as a better parent, so I think it would be very important to talk about it and be very upfront about it," McCain said in an interview with "Access Hollywood." In an appearance on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," she said she tries "to talk about it as much as possible because I don't want anyone to wind up in the shoes that I did at the time."

In describing her struggle with drugs, McCain has said that she became addicted to Vicodin and Percocet in early 1989 after rupturing two disks and having back surgery. She has said she hid her addiction from her husband, Sen. John McCain, and stopped taking the pain medications in 1992 after her parents confronted her. She has not discussed what kind of treatment she received for her addiction, but she has made clear that she believes she has put her problems behind her.

While McCain's accounts have captured the pain of her addiction, her journey through this personal crisis is a more complicated story than she has described, and it had more consequences for her and those around her than she has acknowledged.

Her misuse of painkillers prompted an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local prosecutors that put her in legal jeopardy. A doctor with McCain's medical charity who supplied her with prescriptions for the drugs lost his license and never again practiced medicine. The charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, eventually had to be closed in the wake of the controversy. Her husband was forced to admit publicly that he was absent much of the time she was having problems and was not aware of them.

"So many lives were damaged by this," said Jeanette Johnson, whose husband, John Max Johnson, surrendered his medical license. "A lot of good people. Doctors who volunteered their time. My husband. I cannot begin to tell you how painful it was. We moved far away to start over."

McCain's addiction also embroiled her with one of her charity's former employees, Tom Gosinski, who reported her drug use to the DEA and provided prosecutors with a contemporaneous journal that detailed the effects of her drug problems. He was later accused by a lawyer for McCain of trying to extort money from the McCain family.

"It's not just about her addiction, it's what she did to cover up her addiction and the lives of other people that she ruined, or put at jeopardy at least," Gosinski said in an interview this week.

Cindy and John McCain declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this article. The McCain campaign also declined to comment.

Now the whole story is a convoluted mess that took place over 15 years ago, and I would guess that Cindy McCain is clean from the drugs. The story also paints a rather unflattering portrait of what could be the future First Lady. But there is possibly another story here regarding a potential cover-up by Senator John McCain against Tom Gosinski that is actually relevant for this election. This brings up the issue of John McCain's volatile temper, and the question of how a President McCain would respond with the even greater power of the Oval Office, over the power that Senator McCain currently has. This is from Raw Story:

Tom Gosinski, a former employee of the medical-aid charity Cindy McCain used as personal supplier of Percocet and Vicodin, is speaking out publicly for the first time.

On Wednesday, Gosinski sat down with RAW STORY and other outlets to tell his story and distribute copies of his personal journal from his time with the American Voluntary Medical Team in the last half of 1992, where he voiced ever more acute concerns and frustrations over McCain's drug use and its impact on her mood and job performance.


He says he can't buy the official McCain camp line that Cindy's drug abuse was kept from her husband, he saw and heard too much for any of their stories to make sense -- like the time Cindy was allegedly taken to the hospital after an overdose and John rushed in to berate the doctors and nurses there before moving Cindy to their secluded Sedona ranch. Then there were the Hensley family interventions and the fact that Cindy's drug abuse came to be something of an open secret among employees of the charity.


In an Oct. 5, 1992, entry, Gosinski writes about a story that circulated just a few days after Cindy McCain's parents, Jim and Smitty Hensley, confronted her about her drug abuse.

Last Friday, late in the afternoon, Miss Jeri (Cindy's aunt) was visiting with Dalton Smith, the Hensley's Pilot about Jim and Smitty confronting Cindy about her drug problem. During the conversation Dalton mentioned an incident which took place a couple of years ago -- Cindy had taken too many pills and had been rushed to a hospital near their home on Oak Creek. John McCain was rushed to the hospital and rather than helping Cindy obtain help he had her dismissed from the hospital and taken to the Cabin. I had assumed the entire family knew of the incident as Kathy Walker had mentioned it to me many months ago but come to find out Jeri and the Hensleys knew nothing of it. Needless to say it was very painful for Miss Jeri to find this out and she was very concerned about what the news of this occurrence would do to Jim and Smitty. Whatever the outcome, I doubt that Jim and Smitty will ever be able to respect John McCain again

Even now, more than a decade-and-a-half later, Gosinski says he's not convinced that Cindy has cleaned herself up. Asked if her behavior in public and on the campaign trail this year mirrored his experiences in 1992, Gosinski agreed.

So apparently Gosinski watched Cindy McCain descend into her addiction to Percocet and Vicodin, when he was working with the American Voluntary Medical Team. He learned of the confrontation between Cindy McCain and her parents regarding Cindy's drug problem, the overdose of Cindy McCain, and then John McCain's decision to remove his wife from the hospital, where she was being treated, and take her back to their residence. Even more startling was that Gosinski found out that Cindy McCain's parents didn't know that John McCain had Cindy removed from the hospital. According to Raw Story, From July, 1992, until Gosinski's termination in January, 1993, Gosinsky "grows increasingly agitated" at Cindy McCain's behavior, and is convinced that Cindy McCain "is using the [American Voluntary Medical Team] charity more for self-promotion than as a means to aid the poor."

Here is where John McCain comes in. Gosinski believes he was fired from the charity because he had learned too much about Cindy McCain's drug abuse, and "has remained quiet out of fear of retribution from John McCain or his political allies." From Raw Story:

After he was fired from AVMT, Gosinski, a lifelong Republican, says he was "black balled" from future political jobs. Furthermore, McCain and his Keating Five lawyer John Dowd orchestrated an extortion investigation aimed at squashing a wrongful termination lawsuit Gosinski had filed.

"I think everybody knows that John McCain has a volatile ... temper," Gosinski said Wednesday. "And I don't know how they can mess with my life. They certainly tried to mess with it 15 years ago by making me unemployable and ruining my opportunity for a job in Republican politics in Arizona."

By the time the wrongful termination suit was filed and the investigation launched, Gosinski already had been meeting for nearly a year with the Drug Enforcement Agency to detail Cindy McCain's use of the charity as her own personal pain-killer depot. Essentially, Gosinski could not have been blackmailing the rich, powerful and politically connected McCain family because he already had told the authorities what he knew.

Gosinski was fired after he complained about prescriptions Cindy McCain had ordered in his name, and he approached the DEA with a “what if” scenario asking whether he could be held liable for not coming forward with information about the drug thefts.

Ironically, in their pursuit of a designated political enemy, McCain and his allies ended up setting in motion the process that would eventually expose Cindy McCain's drug abuse.

"[Neither] my lawsuit, nor anything I did with the DEA, made the matters public," Gosinski says. "When John Dowd and John McCain tried to intimidate me" it put it into the public sphere because Dowd "pretty much directed the Maricopa County Attorney's office" on how to pursue an extortion case. The records of that case became a part of the public record and contained Cindy McCain’s admission of a drug problem while revealing the DEA was investigating her charity.

Several hundred pages of documents from the extortion investigation and Gosinski's lawsuit also were distributed Wednesday, along with excerpts from his journal. No extortion charges ever were filed, and Gosinski says he eventually gave up on the lawsuit when he realized he was up against McCain's relentless and well-funded Washington legal team.

This is especially disturbing, at how John McCain could use the money and power that he has as a U.S. Senator to destroy Gosinski. Gosinski became a political enemy of John McCain because he got too close to the McCain family, actually becoming "friends with the McCains and the Hensleys." But when Gosinski started talking to the DEA about Cindy McCain's drug use, John McCain used his power to destroy Gosinski. Granted, Gosinski attempted to sue McCain for wrongful termination, but McCain totally destroyed Gosinsky. McCain used his personal lawyer to set up an extortion case against Gosinski with the Maricopa County Attorney's office. I'm not saying that Gosinski is the good guy here and McCain is the bad guy. But this story, coming out with 54 days left before the election, reveals the fury of McCain's temper, and the means he would go about to destroy his enemies. If this is the type of personal destruction that an angry John McCain can abuse with his Senate seat, imagine the destructive power an angry John McCain can abuse with the power of the White House?

The following videos were posted to YouTube by Open Left's Matt Stoller, who spoke to Gosinski along with RAW STORY Wednesday:

Tom Gosinski's interview Part One:

Tom Gosinski's interview Part Two:

And finally, Americablog has a story up, reporting that the Washington Post had first published Gosinski's account of Cindy McCain's drug abuse and John McCain's cover-up, but the pulled the story off its website. The story was published through the by Washington Post writer Kimberly Kindy. Now it appears that the WaPost story by Kindy is back up on the WaPost website.

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