Colorado Marijuana Group Attacks Cindy McCain, Alcohol Pusher

When I first heard today of the new website Drug Dealer Cindy, I thought it was going to be about Cindy McCain's past struggles with prescription drugs. It's not. It's about her family beer distributing business, Hensley & Company.

The site and the video are the work of Safer Choice, a Colorado organization whose goals I've supported in the past.

This new site makes me a little uneasy. I'd almost rather it was about the sweetheart deal Cindy McCain got for her prescription drug violations that others don't get -- and if her husband is elected President, won't get.

SAFER in the fine print says the site is not an attack on Cindy McCain but on the hypocrisy of our laws that tolerate alcohol abuse while punishing users of marijuana, a less harmful substance.

Sorry, SAFER, I see it as an attack on Cindy McCain and I think it will be viewed as mean-spirited. I'd rather you stick to attacking our unjust laws and the politicians who pass them. That's John McCain, not Cindy.

Raw Story has more.

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    Cindy McCain isn't running for office. (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by Angel on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:19:16 PM EST

    And even if she were... (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:22:41 PM EST
    this is inappropriate, not to mention counterproductive.

    Education is one thing.

    Beating up on people who buy, sell or drink alcohol legally and responsibly is political suicide.

    It's stupid.


    Exactly. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Angel on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:24:20 PM EST
    I'll drink to that! (none / 0) (#27)
    by BernieO on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:22:45 AM EST
    This could win Wisconsin (none / 0) (#22)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:59:23 PM EST
    for McCain, or at least Milwaukee.

    Then again, her beer is Anheuser-Busch, isn't it?  Nah, it's okay with Milwaukee to attack Anheuser-Busch.

    But as A-B is number-one in barrelage, as they say, and as her company is one of the leading distributors in the country -- why p*ss off beer-drinkers and make them like McCain more?


    What Jeralyn said in the last paragraph (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by PssttCmere08 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:24:33 PM EST

    I have to agree with Jeralyn (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by txpolitico67 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:41:57 PM EST
    And in the spirit of equity, Michelle Obama should be off-limits as well.  

    Let the guys duke it out @ the ballot box.  

    Off limits for this kind of bs, yes (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by angie on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:41:06 PM EST
    Not for things they say on the campaign trial -- I think that is fair -- they have been prepped, they're of legal age, they're smart -- when they choose to try to sway voters, their actions then -- and only then, can be scrutinized/critiqued.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for Beer! (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by daryl herbert on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:44:39 PM EST
    Not a winning line for Obama.  These potheads need to find a more constructive way to push their agenda.

    Here is an email circulating (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Leisa on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:57:24 PM EST
    that may be telling:

    An email from Ireland to all of their brethren in the States...a point to ponder despite your
    political affiliation:

    'We, in Ireland, can't figure out why you people are even bothering to hold an election in the United

    On one side, you had a pants wearing female lawyer, married to another lawyer who can't seem to keep
    his pants on, who just lost a long and heated primary against a lawyer, who goes to the wrong church, who
    is married to yet another lawyer, who doesn't even like the country her husband wants to run!

    Now...On the other side, you have a nice old war hero whose name starts with the appropriate 'Mc'
    terminology, married to a good looking younger woman who owns a beer distributorship !!

    Now what in God's name are ya lads
    thinkin over in the colonies !
    author unknown

    We know now that beer swilling sexist's are the one's to elected the last few POTUSes.  So the complainers about this are not going to help Obama.... heh.


    Hey Focker... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by txpolitico67 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:26:20 PM EST
    you a pothead?  

    Like it or not, beer is legal (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by JavaCityPal on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:21:20 PM EST
    marijuana is not. I should think the smarter effort would be getting marijuana legalized, at least medical.

    For all the millions and millions of democrats in this country who love a cold one, this is a big waste of time, money, and internet space.

    Why do those stoners hate America? (none / 0) (#17)
    by angie on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:37:54 PM EST
    Really -- why don't they just attack mom & apple pie  while they are at it.  

    Sweetheart deal? (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by jccamp on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 11:13:01 PM EST
    In my more than 30 years experience, I have never - repeat never, none, nada - heard of the DEA and the U S Attorney's Office prosecuting an individual for prescription drug abuse, obtained via any nonviolent means, that did not include sales to others, or importation and/or manufacture of unlawful material. The only reason the Feds pursued Mrs McCain was most likely because her husband was a  U S Senator, and they were worried about charges of favoritism.

    The DEA has an administrative arm which monitored the non-profit Mrs McCain was using to obtain drugs. Normally, even if they believed something to be criminal, they would never have prosecuted in District Court, absent some serious weight, a death, something aggravating beyond one person with an addiction to painkillers.

    The DEA normally will only handle cases that involve serious weight - meaning lots of kilos. The U S Attorney declines cases every day that involve sale to others, trafficking and smuggling. Does any experienced defense attorney reading this really think that if Mrs McCain was just Jane Doe (of any ethnicity), the Feds would have been anywhere near the case. It would have been referred to state court or settled without a prosecution (like it eventually was) in about 15 seconds.

    And frankly, in state court, a first time offender writing bogus prescriptions because of an addiction, containing no indications other than personal use, is an automatic probation and deferred prosecution.

    This is nowhere near a sweetheart deal. it's the way first time, personal use violations are handled every day.

    There are plenty of genuine issues in this race to discuss. Mrs. McCain's one-time drug problem should not be one of them. I am not trying to promote Sen McCain in any way. But let's get real about the resolution of his wife's legal issues.

    Thank you. I read the attacks (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 11:31:08 PM EST
    on her on this but have no background such as yours to get a handle on how to judge what happened.

    Actually, (none / 0) (#36)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:39:03 PM EST
    It was investigated by the feds because of "the possibility that ill-gotten drugs had been transported out of the country." Also,

    Some prescriptions were for quantities of 400 and 500 pills. Sometimes, Cindy McCain would go to Johnson's home to pick up the prescription. Sometimes, she would send an underling, Johnson said.

    Johnson told investigators that he never dispensed any painkillers during overseas missions, and that Cindy McCain carried the drugs in her personal luggage. Gosinski says he knew of no doctors who prescribed them on an overseas mission. Dr. Dennis Everton, however, tells New Times that on his sole AVMT mission--to Kuwait in 1991--he did prescribe pain medication.

    It's the involvment of her charity that makes the case different that the typical script forger and stealer.

    In 2007, 115 people were convicted and sentenced federally for prescription fraud. In 1995, a year after her conduct became public, it was 48. Not many, but not zero.

    18 usc 843(a):

    a) Unlawful acts: It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally -

    ....    (3) to acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge;

    From the sentencing guidelines: the applicable guidline is:

    a) §2D2.2. Acquiring a Controlled Substance by Forgery, Fraud, Deception, or Subterfuge; Attempt or Conspiracy

    (a) Base Offense Level: 8

    From the news at the time (obtained from Lexis): ARIZONA PROBES CHARITY RUN BY SENATOR'S WIFE Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) August 29, 1994, Monday,

    The medical director for Cindy McCain's charity is being investigated by a state board that oversees doctors, according to confidential records obtained this past week.

    Cindy McCain is the wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    John Max Johnson has admitted to investigators that he wrote prescriptions for painkillers intended for poor people under the names of McCain's employees.

    The Arizona Board of Medical Examiners agreed in May to investigate Johnson's conduct after it received a complaint, but it cautioned that the investigation may take nine months to a year.

    Meanwhile, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed that it still is investigating the charity Cindy McCain heads, the American Voluntary Medical Team.

    Mark Speicher, executive director of the Medical Examiners Board, refused Friday to confirm or deny that Johnson is being investigated, saying that such investigations are confidential until reviewed by the 12-member board, which meets four times a year.

    Johnson, 56, a general surgeon, has worked as a volunteer for McCain's charity, which provides medical care to the poor worldwide.

    McCain admitted earlier this week that she was addicted to prescription painkillers from 1989 to 1992 and had stolen some of the painkillers from the charity.

    The Board of Medical Examiners agreed to investigate Johnson after learning that he had written prescriptions in the name of a charity employee, Thomas Gosinski, whom he never had treated.

    In 1993, Gosinski tipped the DEA that McCain had been abusing prescription painkillers.

    McCain's attorney said she has asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to let her enter an 18-month diversion program in lieu of being prosecuted. That decision is pending.

    (my emphasis)

    I'd only add this (none / 0) (#37)
    by jccamp on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:15:46 PM EST
    Of the 115 persons sentenced in 2007, I believe only 48 were not convicted and sentenced of other crimes as well. In '95, only 23 were not convicted and sentenced of other crimes as well (representing only .05% of Federal convictions for that year). Of the lower number in either year, we have no way to know what the totality of circumstances were, i.e. did the defendant traffic in prescription drugs, did the illegally obtained drugs result in the death of another person, etc. In addition, we have no way to know if the persons sentenced for prescription fraud alone actually had other charges which were dropped in a plea bargain or co-operating witness scenario.
    My point is this: once the DEA investigation established that no drug trafficking was occurring, and/or no international transportation of prescription drugs was occurring other than for personal use, the resulting disposition is not unusual or surprising.
    And I repeat, excepting some special & aggravating circumstances, no U S Attorney's Office is going to prosecute an individual for prescription fraud for personal use alone.
    Mrs McCain didn't get a "sweetheart deal." The disposition of her case is typical and expected under her circumstances.
    That's based on my personal experience. Maybe somewhere in this country, there is a U S Attorney's Office that would
    prosecute this case. But I doubt it.

    Having said all that, even if his wife didn't get a sweetheart deal, that doesn't qualify the Senator from Arizona for immunity from scrutiny in a number of areas. I just don't think this is one of them.


    cindy mccain is fair game, (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by cpinva on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:23:34 AM EST
    just as much as mary cheney was, as much as bill clinton. all three campaigned for their loved one.

    cindy mccain makes lots of money from, well, um, dealing drugs. so do the pharmaceutical companies. she got a "sweetheart" deal because her prescription drug abuse included stealing those drugs from a clinic, not merely possessing/using them. so much for the DEA going after her, because of who she is.

    this isn't to suggest that ms. mccain is a bad person (i have no clue, neither do any of you), or that attacks on her are an effective political tool. probably not.

    that said, to seriously suggest she should be left alone, because her spouse, not she, is running for office, when she willingly inserted herself into the campaign, is ridiculous.

    What's the problem? (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:11:14 AM EST
    Looks like the truth to me...Cindy McCain is a drug dealer with a government backed monopoly.

    I've got nothing against drug dealers...they provide a service people want...a service that I want:)  I'm grateful....truly grateful.

    But as squeaky said...when a drug dealer supports the govt. in putting their competition in chains and cages...a monopoly at the barrel of a gun...then they can and should be called out for it.

    What is (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by tek on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:36:13 AM EST
    your evidence that pot is less harmful?  It's just selective, that's all.  Lawyers teach that every society has a drug of choice which is protected by law.  In the U. S. that drug is alcohol.  

    Actually, if you look at it historically, we realized too late that alcohol is really harmful, especially after machinery became the norm.  We tried to outlaw it, couldn't control it.  The government is not going to repeat that mistake.  That's why illegal drugs will never be legal.

    BTW, I've seen some people waaaaay messed up on pot.  I wouldn't want to be on the road with them or anywhere else.

    Evidence? (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:48:14 AM EST
    Drink too much alcohol and you die...smoke too much reefer and you eat a box of Devil Dogs and fall asleep.

    Know what's more harmful than alcohol, reefer, and heroin put together?...Prohibition.


    Right on the money (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by DenverRabbleRouser on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:19:42 PM EST
    The ads seem to be right on point. Cindy McCain is an alcohol (aka a drug) distributor (aka a dealer).

    She is proud of her industry, and clearly -- judging by alcohol sales nationwide, proliferation of booze commercials on TV, and the comments on this post -- so are most Americans. So why is it an "attack"?

    As the group says on its site. They are not attacking the McCains, and they are not opposed to her selling alcohol. They appear to just be upset that alcohol is legal despite the clear harms it causes, yet marijuana is illegal despite the fact is does not cause such harm. People need to get their minds out of the gutter and stop thinking of this as an attack because -- as many pointed out -- it is not a good attack or even an attack at all. That's because it does not appear to have been meant to be one.

    I find it almost comical that people are saying a "Cindy McCain: Drug ADDICT" (as opposed to Dealer) campaign would somehow be in better taste or less of an attack. Cindy's problems with prescription drugs are her private problems (although, yes, she did get caught stealing some from a charity). Nonetheless, that is a PERSONAL attack. Pointing out that she runs an alcohol company is NOT personal and not an attack. It's just a fact.

    It appears this campaign has caused quite a bit of discussion here and elsewhere. Lots of people discussing whether drug laws are hypocritical. Lots of people putting some thought into this issue that we can all agree doesn't receive nearly enough mainstream attention. Moreover, there are many people out there who think marijuana is just so harmful it needs to be kept illegal (thanks to our gov't.'s over-the-top ad campaigns and propaganda). Undoubtedly, many of these people drink or have no problem with booze. Now they actually have to think about whether marijuana is really THAT bad.

    In other words, I'd say these ads -- whether you like them or not -- have done their job.

    Cindy McCain (2.00 / 1) (#9)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:56:25 PM EST
    May be nice and all but she is campaigning for McSame. I do not think she is off limits.

    The democratic platform is terrible on crime and drugs and Obama should be taken to task for his reactionary positions, but it is way better than the republican platform.

    She is a perfect reason for McSame to realize that the drug laws are wacked. But he is not budging.

    I think that Safer Choice is making a good call.

    Oh Squeaky... (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Leisa on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:02:03 PM EST
    Do you know Cindy McCain?  Her humanitarian accomplishments and her human (and honestly open) problem with prescription pain meds make her a  compellingly real and wonderful FL...  Do not go there.  

    I have a lot of respect for CMc (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by lmv on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:17:32 AM EST
    She has a compelling life  story of her own.  She's risked her life to take meds to war-torn regions in Africa and Asia.  And, supposedly, she's trained to disarm a landmine.  

    The McCains walked the walk by adopting their daughter, Bridget, from Bangledesh.  Bridget was an orphan with cleft palate and sure to die until Cindy whisked her back to the US.  Cindy brought back another child that her friends went on to adopt.  Those friends didn't see one medical bill.  This resonates with me as a mom.

    I think political spouses have become fair game but the Dems might find they are better off not attacking Cindy.


    Right on! (none / 0) (#39)
    by Leisa on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:51:41 PM EST
    Thanks... Cindy does what is right with the privilege and influence that was her birth right through inheritance.  She is a woman with heart and any attack on her will backfire.  She has done more for others globally than many ever do locally.

    I read that Cindy (none / 0) (#40)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:55:51 PM EST
    adopted their child and brought her home without  consulting with her husband. Is that wrong? If not, I don't see that he gets much credit for "walking the walk." (She does though.)

    if ur really an Obama supporter (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by txpolitico67 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:25:27 PM EST
    you would WANT the wives to be off-limits.  Do you really advocate the wives being in the fray?  Ask one Hillary Clinton about that subject. Also, when Mrs. Obama injects herself into the debate, to the GOP she IS fair game.

    I think otherwise. A spouse is NATURALLY going to advocate their partner's position.  Again, this election is about Barack Obama and John McCain.

    The primary is over.  Let's leave the wives at home and start talking policy damm1t!


    Cindy McCain hasn't been campaigning (2.00 / 0) (#20)
    by Valhalla on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:42:37 PM EST
    for her husband, and certainly not campaigning on her ownership of a beer distributorship.

    Jeez. Undignified. (none / 0) (#1)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:17:29 PM EST
    And rotten if they didn't give equal time to Pete Coors.

    OMG, I can not believe (none / 0) (#8)
    by LatinoVoter on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:56:06 PM EST
    that potheads got together and collectively were able to accomplish building a website. Hell, I can barely create a blogger theme without getting distracted halfway and I don't even smoke up.

    But what is with the "Wanted" poster and joining the "posse?" It doesn't fit into the theme of the website. Oh wait, potheads designed it never mind...

    Didn't someone get in trouble for saying something similar to the sentiments of the "Wanted" poster and "posse" about the wife of another candidate?

    Drunk Or Stoned? (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:01:59 PM EST
    Or a "drug" dealer making mlllions a year, which is the case here.

    Drug Dealer?? (none / 0) (#16)
    by txpolitico67 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:30:20 PM EST
    you mean like Pfizer or McKesson?  That debate could be stretched like a rubber band from here to the equator.  Although that might segue well into Jeralyn's mention of Cindy McCain's "sweetheart deal".

    Stretched? (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:55:32 PM EST
    Not nearly enough, imo. Anyone who profits from intoxicating their clients, and also supports criminalizing their competition is seriously corrupt.

    Wh could also speak of how much $$$ (none / 0) (#18)
    by coigue on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:41:03 PM EST
    Cindy got as a result of Anheuser-Busch being sold to Stella Artois.

    Can't have your cake... (none / 0) (#28)
    by jefered on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:50:30 AM EST
    Of course she supports her husband, and it would be silly to expect her not to. But when she chooses to do it publicly - very publicly, joining him on stage, making speeches on his behalf, she has volunteered to engage the public, for better or worse.

    The effectiveness of this campaign can be disputed, but Ms. McCain has already said yes to whether or not she wants public critique. That much is indisputable.

    I wonder if any of the Obama (none / 0) (#29)
    by dk on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 08:57:02 AM EST
    cheerleaders here even remember Kitty Dukakis.

    I'm just disgusted by the hypocrisy of the fauxgressives around here.

    Deliberately offensive website name (none / 0) (#33)
    by OxyCon on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:22:00 PM EST
    They can claim to not be attacking Cindy McCain's past substance abuse, the the website name betrays them on that claim.

    Maybe.... (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:34:52 PM EST
    but deliberately 100% true as well.

    Cindy McCain is in the drug distribution business...specifically alcohol distrubution.  No disputing this fact.  I see no shame in it, and I see no shame in the reefer distribution business.

    The government decided to demonize the word "drugs" and the phrase "drug dealer", not the people behind this website.  If Cindy or anybody else doesn't like the drug dealer label, take it up with the govt., they made it a dirty word.  That or stop selling drugs.


    Polling a few substance abusers ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by RonK Seattle on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:27:59 PM EST
    ... of all stripes, I find that McCain wins the "guy you'd rather have a beer with" test by a truckload.

    No joke. Make of it what you will.