On the campaign trail, Sen. John McCain frequently decries earmarks and pork-barrel legislation, proudly bragging that he has never requested a single earmark for his home state of Arizona. However, a news article and a scathing editorial from The Arizona Republic during his first-term as the state's junior senator reveal that McCain did, in fact, go outside the normal legislative process to secure funding for at least one pet project for Arizona. He also supported appropriations for at least two more -- three projects that, much to his embarrassment, he later railed against as "pork."
In 1991, McCain was embroiled in the The Keating Five Scandal, in which he and four other senators were implicated in a corruption investigation connected to the Savings & Loan crisis. Though McCain was cleared of wrongdoing in August, he was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee for exercising poor judgment for meeting with federal regulators on behalf of one of his major fund-raisers, Charles Keating Jr., the chairman of Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. Keating would spend four and a half years in prison for fraud and racketeering following the bank's failure.
Facing re-election the following year, McCain sought to salvage his damaged reputation by re-branding himself as a champion of government reform and a foe of wasteful spending. According to the article from The Arizona Republic dated June 14, 1991, McCain joined with two other senators and nine House members June 13 to introduce legislation to rescind more than $1 billion in funding for 325 federal pork-barrel projects in the 1991 budget, but had not yet been spent.