Senate Inquiry In Keating Case Tested McCain - New York Times Senate Inquiry In Keating Case Tested McCain E-MAIL Print Single-Page Reprints Save Share Linkedin Digg Facebook Mixx Yahoo! Buzz Permalink By JILL ABRAMSON AND ALISON MITCHELL Published: November 21, 1999 In late 1989, Senator John McCain went home to Arizona to fight for his political life. It was at the height of the savings and loan scandal, and his dealings with Charles Keating, an Arizona high-flier whose failed thrift was a $2 billion debacle for taxpayers, were dominating the news in his home state. Mr. McCain faced a hail of hostile questions, even at the Mesa Rotary Club in bedrock Republican territory. After one of the club's elders rose to defend him and say he still believed in him, the senator mordantly observed, ''The fact that my supporters even feel they need to say these things is evidence of how serious the situation is.'' ''It was certainly the most difficult experience in my political life,'' he now says about this tumultuous time. During a 14-month Senate ethics investigation that ended with his exoneration, he and four other senators stood accused of exerting improper influence by meeting with federal bank regulators on behalf of Mr. Keating, who had contributed $1.5 million to the political causes and campaigns of the senators, including $112,000 to Mr. McCain can you say exonerated?