Questions about John McCain’s foundation have arisen amid revelations that, for the last several years the foundation has not been using its donations, instead depositing small amounts of their large endowment into the Arizona State University Foundation. This issue has added importance when considered in the context of John McCain’s controversial sources of funding and the arrest of a number of past campaign workers on charges such as child abuse and drug trafficking.
I. The McCain Institute
The McCain Institute for International Leadership is a think tank established in cooperation with Arizona State University. The primary focus of the foundation is combatting human trafficking and promoting a new generation of “national security leaders.” The McCain Institute has hosted a number of speaking events over the years, with speakers such as Joe Biden, Ben Affleck, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Governor Chris Christie, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. Board members of the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council include Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of anti-human trafficking group, Thorn. The Institute’s Board of Trustees includes Lynn Forester de Rothschild, former general David Petraeus and Joseph Lieberman. Factoring in board members, employees and interns, the McCain Institute has 80 employees assisting their operations in various capacities.
With the connections that the McCain Institute enjoys, the expectation would be that they would be using their generous endowments, ample staff and influence to make meaningful strides in the fight against human trafficking. But an inspection of their finances reveals that this is not the case.
II. The McCain Institute Is Not Spending Their Endowment
A review of the McCain Institute’s filings with the IRS reveals that they are not, in fact, spending any of their endowment on combatting human trafficking, or apparently on any other expenses. In 2012, the McCain Institute received $8,685,619 in donations, gifts and grants. Yet their expenses were a mere $500,000. In 2013 they again, only contributed $500,000 of their endowment. In 2014, the McCain Institute received $1,305,000 and donated $1,500,000. All of the donations made by the McCain Institute in 2012, 2013 and 2014 went to the Arizona State University Foundation, a group which appears to have nothing to do with human trafficking. Why McCain is not spending his foundation’s endowment on anything, let alone anti-human trafficking efforts, raises questions about where the cash is actually going and what it is being used for.
III. John McCain Has A Long History Of Corruption Allegations And Criminal Staff Members Involved With His Campaigns
The McCain Institute’s website features a long list of donors that includes Chevron, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sir Evelyn and Lynn Forester de Rothschild, FedEx Corporation, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and McCain’s own 2008 Presidential Campaign. McCain has always been cozy with big name donors, a habit which has caused him to be accused of impropriety in a number of instances. In 1989 McCain narrowly escaped corruption charges along with four other Senators after it was alleged that they intervened on banker Charles Keating Jr.’s behalf to resist banking regulators in return for financial support. In 2008, McCain was accused of impropriety by Judicial Watch after he accepted campaign donations from multiple members of the Rothschild family in London. Wikileaks also revealed that McCain had improperly lobbied the Russian government for campaign contributions. In 2016, McCain cut off reporters enquiring about a $1 million donation that he had received from Saudi Arabia in 2014. More recently in February 2017, Breitbart accused McCain of corruption after it emerged that McCain, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Lindsey Graham had all accepted donations from George Soros.
Multiple members of McCain’s various campaign staff have been arrested in the past on criminal charges. In 2009, the former manager of McCain’s Pueblo, Colorado presidential campaign office was arrested on child molestation charges after it was alleged that he had abused a number of young boys; at least one molestation occurred during the time that he was working for McCain. In April 2016, a former fundraiser for John McCain was arrested on multiple felony drug charges, including child endangerment after police found an active meth lab and meth, LSD and cocaine in her house. She had been listed as a contact in fundraising documents for Senator McCain.
The failure of the McCain Institute to actually spend their money on furthering the foundation’s stated objectives, Senator McCain’s long history courting controversy by attracting accusations of corruption and multiple instances of his campaign staff’s involvement in criminal activities raise serious questions about the work being done by his Institute to combat human trafficking and where the money given to it is actually going.