Role Models For Dummies

In the mid-1970s, a tragic event occurred in Arizona. An intrepid reporter for the Arizona Republic was investigating organized crime when he apparently flew a little too close to the sun. His name was Don Bolles. His investigation was leading him to a wealthy Arizona businessman named Kemper Marley.

On June 2, 1976, Bolles was mortally wounded by a car bomb. Before lapsing into unconsciousness, Bolles uttered the words, “Adamson, Emprise, Mafia.” He died 11 days later.

John Harvey Adamson confessed to luring Bolles to a Phoenix hotel parking lot and placing a bomb beneath the reporter’s car. The bomb, Adamson testified, was detonated by James Robison, a Chandler plumber. Adamson testified he was hired to kill Bolles by Max Dunlap, a Phoenix contractor and close associate of [Kemper] Marley’s. Marley had extended a $1 million loan to Dunlap, which had not been repaid. Adamson said Dunlap hired him to kill Bolles because Marley was upset over Bolles’ stories.

Kemper Marley is a decades old business partner of Jim Hensley, John McCain’s father-in-law. If you dig into the archives to learn how Jim Hensley, a convicted felon, acquired a license to distribute alcohol, say, for a Budweiser distributorship, you’ll find no answer. As late as 1988, Hensley was still lying in sworn affidavits to the government about his felony convictions. No one in government today can explain how Hensley acquired the necessary permits to sell alcohol.  Recently, John McCain, in a return volley about how how many homes he owned, had a few words to say about Jim Hensley.

I spent some years without a kitchen table, without a chair, and I know what it’s like to be blessed by the opportunities of this great nation. Cindy’s father, who barely finished high school, went off and distinguished himself in World War II in a B-17 and came back with practically nothing and realized the American dream, and I am proud and grateful for that, and I think he is a role model to many young Americans who serve in the military and come back and succeed.

We should all thank 5th-from-the-bottom-of-his-class John McCain for mentioning Cindy’s father as his role model. It gives us another chance to examine the Senator’s judgment.  The following is from a meticulously researched expose published by the Phoenix New Times in 2000:


The Hensley saga, meanwhile, swirls with bygone accounts of illicit booze, gambling, horse racing, deceit and crime. James Hensley embarked on his road to riches as a bootlegger.
The Hensley brothers were partners with a powerful Phoenix businessman named Kemper Marley, who had cornered a large share of Arizona’s wholesale liquor business after Prohibition was lifted in 1933.
A federal jury in U.S. District Court of Arizona in March 1948 convicted James Hensley on seven counts of filing false liquor records in addition to the conspiracy charge. Eugene was convicted on 23 counts of filing false statements and the conspiracy count.
One can only speculate how a convicted felon who falsified federal liquor records managed to obtain a state and federal wholesale liquor license within a few years of his 1949 conviction and 1953 indictment. But apparently, Hensley did.
It is uncertain how convicted bootlegger James Hensley obtained a federal basic permit. However, it is extremely unlikely that a person with a similar conviction today would get a federal liquor license, says Allison Stevens, ATF Phoenix Area supervisor.

Hensley’s oldest state liquor license application on file dates to 1971. In that application, he disclosed his felony conviction but failed to state that he had been an owner and employee at Ruidoso Downs as the secretary of the corporation. At the time, the problems at Ruidoso were widely publicized in New Mexico newspapers and his brother was in prison for tax evasion and skimming funds from the track.

State records show James Hensley applied for another liquor license in 1988. This time, Hensley did not disclose his federal conviction when asked specifically on the form whether he had ever been convicted of a felony. James Hensley signed the sworn and notarized statement that warned false information “could result in criminal prosecution.”

In 1977, one year after the Bolles murder, a team of investigative reporters remained on the trail. The following appeared in an Albequerque newspaper under the main headline, “Organized Crime Showing Interest In New Mexico”:

Riudoso Race Track Owners Tied to Arizona Gambling

Former associates of Phoenix wheeler dealers and gambling interests once controlled Riudoso Downs race track and while in New Mexico they apparently kept their business operations to themselves.

Eugene V. Hensley and his brother James W. Hensley who purchased controlling stock of Riudoso Racing Association in December 1952, once worked for and with Kemper Marley, Phoenix millionaire rancher and wholesale liquor dealer.

And When the Hensley brothers purchased control of the Lincoln County track, Phoenix gambler Clarence E. “Teak” Baldwin simultaneously bought one third of the race track stock—something the Hensleys denied in a State Racing Commission hearing in May, 1953.

Marley, 70 was named recently in a police affadavit as the man who requested the contract killings of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, slain in a bomb attack last June and Arizona Attorney Gen Bruce Babbitt.

This diary at Kos has more of the story and carries the Hensley money origins even farther, linking it, via Marley, to Al Capone.

Role models indeed.

Posted by poputonian on 08/31/08 at 09:09 AM • Permalink

Categories: NewsPoliticsEditorialsElection '08St. McSame

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So you find capitalism distasteful, eh, Comrade Poputonian? Or perhaps your handlers in Moscow forgot to tell you that John McCain is a former POW who spent five years deprived of the company of ANY wealthy heiresses?

What’t sad about this, pop, is that the instant Pubbie response would be “Joe Kennedy!”—because, as we all know, their crimes are always excused by the crimes of others, in conformance with the ancient and noble defense of “Hey, he did it, too!”

Sadder yet is that Americans are so monolithically cynical at this point that political success and large fortunes in alcoholic beverage distribution are pretty much tacitly assumed to be founded on criminal connections and long lists of never-found bodies.

Voters who are not instantly repelled by his erratic record and supernatural creepiness are unlikely to fault him for banging a mobster’s daughter, alas.

Voters who are not instantly repelled by his erratic record and supernatural creepiness are unlikely to fault him for banging a mobster’s daughter, alas.

I don’t disagree. What I’m hoping (or wishing) is that the major blogs would begin emphasizing the pattern in McCain’s corrupt political ways. The money he’s taken from Hensley’s company, and the beer and wine industry as a whole, and how it influenced decisions he’s made as chair of the senate commerce committee is a good starting point. McCain is all about leveraging politics for self-enrichment.  From the 2000 New Times article:

But there is one area where it is unlikely that John McCain will ever emerge as a champion of reform: alcohol.

When he was elected to Congress, McCain swore he’d recuse himself on all votes related to the alcohol industry, given his father-in-law’s and wife’s business. A New Times analysis of McCain’s voting record since 1983 reveals that he has in fact recused himself on the two dozen or so alcohol-related bills that required a voice vote on the floor of the House and then the Senate, while McCain has served in those respective bodies. The bills examined dealt specifically with alcohol: examples include legislation to toughen drunken-driving laws and lower alcohol excise taxes.

But such votes are relatively insignificant when compared to other powers endowed on a senator—particularly a senior senator who chairs an influential committee.

Particularly if the senator is John McCain, the committee is the powerful Senate Commerce Committee and the issue is alcohol.

The Senate Commerce Committee has a number of alcohol-related issues in its purview, including the labeling of alcoholic beverages and alcohol advertising. But you wouldn’t know it from looking at the committee’s agenda since McCain took its reins three years ago.

John McCain’s influence regarding alcohol-related legislation comes from his inaction, rather than action. As a committee chairman, McCain has the unilateral power to kill a bill simply by refusing to put it on a committee agenda or schedule hearings.

And since McCain was elected chairman of the committee in January 1997, that’s exactly what has happened.

The article goes on to detail what a snake McCain had been in killing important bills that worked against his father-in-law and wife’s, and therefore, his, best interests. And of course you have his involvement with Charles Keating, which is more of the same type of corrupt influence.

Digby had an interesting post the other day suggesting it was a mistake for lefty blogs to spend a lot of time and energy on Sarah Palin because people are going to believe what they want to believe. I think that’s good advice. Everyone, on the other hand, believes there is a high propensity for corruption in the Republican party. Emphasizing the dirt in McCain’s past will perhaps yield more than trying to smear Palin. People already tend to believe the Republicans are corrupt. Even Republican voters believe it and branding McCain as corrupt might work.

poputonian—I appreciate your lengthy response to my rather low-density comment.

I agree with you that this needs more visibility and volume. The pattern of self-interest directly undermines the pretense to “honor” that is McCain’s last remaining flotation device.

“Pattern” is important, since—barring a Larry Craig revelation or an on-camera act of cannibalism—there’s no quick KO for the “War Hero” meme. But you can definitely erode it with constant repetition of known offenses and a steady stream of new revelations. The damage will be incremental, but effective. Couple that with parallel narratives that paint maverick = crazy, straight talk = lies and leadership = thoughtless knee-jerk reactions…and you’ve got something going.

GOPers have spent so much time attacking Obama’s “Rorschach” candidacy that they’ve forgotten that McCain himself is basically a magical, abstract construct with the same sort of vulnerabilities…and a much longer record of contradictions. And, when you think about it, “Hope and Change” are harder to disprove than “Honor and Integrity.”

Very well said. I don’t hold out any hope that the slothful press, or our wild and wooly lefty blogs can pull this off, but I think you’ve articulated the case very well. And I really do agree with your original comment, too, that the right wing nut jobs would view McCain’s flirtation with dangerous types as part of his courageous makeup. It’s only when you look at the entire pattern that you can see, plainly, that he really is the antithesis of “Honor and Integrity.”

Check out this McCain/Palin photo here: /sorry-i-didnt-think-of-this-one-first.html

Also, I wonder how all the people feel who were praying that it would rain during the DNC to ruin Obama’s speech.  Do you think someone is sending them a message with Gustav?

Comment by Jim on 09/01/08 at 07:16 AM

Of course this kind of powerful people had they word to say in the noble War on Drugs, that’s for the sake of their business. Alcohol is just one example but I am also referring to illegal drugs, there are strong people behind them, people that we probably know from TV. Have you ever thought about that? How can you explain the War on Drug failure, there were so much money put in it and still it failed…
Cliffside counselor

Comment by Gill on 03/19/09 at 11:06 AM
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