THE BLOG

Straight Talk? You Decide

04/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The New York Times reports today on one of John McCain's leading political patrons, Arizona developer Donald R. Diamond, sometimes known as "The Donald," Arizona's answer to Donald Trump.

Diamond has contributed thousands to McCain (and other Arizona Republicans) over the years, and has raised over $250,000 for McCain's current presidential campaign. In return, McCain has used his Senate post to further Diamond's business interests. The Times reports that McCain's office provided "assistance with the Army [that] helped Mr. Diamond complete a purchase in 1999 that he soon turned over for a $20 million profit." Additionally, in 1991 and 1994, McCain, now the scourge of legislative "earmarks," "sponsored two laws sought by Mr. Diamond that resulted in providing him millions of dollars and thousands of acres in exchange for adding some of his properties to national parks. The Arizona senator co-sponsored a third similar bill now before the Senate."

So let's get a little straight talk about the nature of this relationship.

Here's how McCain's office describes it:

"A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, Jill Hazelbaker, said the senator, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, "had done nothing for Mr. Diamond that he would not do for any other Arizona citizen."

Here's how "The Donald" Diamond describes it:

"I think that is what Congress people are supposed to do for constituents," he said. "When you have a big, significant businessman like myself, why wouldn't you want to help move things along? What else would they do? They waste so much time with legislation."

McCain, of course, denies that his political contributors can expect any favors in return. "The Donald" is candid about his expectations as a fundraiser: "I want my money back, for Christ's sake. Do you know how many cocktail parties I have to go to?"

Straight Talker. McCain or Donald Diamond ? You decide.

There is no question that Diamond's investments in McCain have produced a remarkable return on the dollar. Maybe public financing of elections -- scorned by conservatives as "food stamps for politicians" -- isn't so dumb after all. It sure would save taxpayers a hell of a lot money.