McCain addresses Abramoff hearings in nationwide conference call

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Across the country, supporters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, took part in McCain’s “Super Saturday” campaign event Oct. 25 in an effort to garner support for the ticket. Part of the event entailed a conference call in which supporters would be able to directly ask him questions.

He mentioned that he was not afraid to address any issues regarding Native people, even if it meant challenging people within the GOP.

“I would like to mention that one of the aspects of serving on the Indian Affairs Committee for many years and taking charge and being involved in Indian health issues and tribal sovereignty and land issues was that when we found out that this guy [Jack] Abramoff was ripping off Indian tribes [in the amount] of millions and millions of dollars,” he said, referring to a scandal involving a lobbyist who had bilked American Indian tribes to the tune of tens of millions in false fees and tribal services. McCain was then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which conducted hearings on the matter. Abramoff and others were convicted and sentenced to jail time.

“I went after him, and I knew he was Republican. I knew he was a powerful Republican lobbyist. I went after him, he is in prison, others are in prison because of that scandal; and I am not afraid to take on my party or the other party if I see that corruption is going on – and it was corruption.”

McCain ended by stating his pride in having dealt with Native people for many years.

“But I am also very proud of my relationship with the Native Americans in my state and across America. I have had that long relationship; it is a tradition handed down from [former Arizona Sen.] Barry Goldwater and [the late Rep.] Morris K. Udall. I am proud of my relationship with, and I am proud of the work that I have been able to do, for Native Americans for a long, long time.”

(Goldwater had served on the SCIA; Udall had worked in the interest of American Indians, specifically in securing passage of the Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act, which outlined Indian water rights claims, in 1981.)