Directly after John McCain passed away on Saturday, rumors that Arizona Gov. Doug Duecy could possibly appoint McCain’s widow, Cindy, in order to fill his now empty Senate seat.
“I think it’s more than likely,” Christine Bauserman, a spokeswoman for Ducey’s gubernatorial primary challenger, Ken Bennett, told the Daily News on Tuesday. “It’s going to be done in the middle of the night some time and no one is going to pay it much attention.”
Bennett first brought up the possibility that Cindy McCain could be appointed to fill her husband’s seat after his passing in May. “I promise I will not appoint Cindy McCain to US Senate as Gov of AZ,” Bennett said in a May 31 tweet that can still be seen as his pinned tweet on Twitter.
I promise I will not appoint Cindy McCain to US Senate as Gov of AZ. #bennettforgov
Trending: General Mattis And His Consultants Are Putting Together A Presidential Campaign
— Ken Bennett (@BennettArizona) May 31, 2018
Back in May, Ducey called Bennett’s tweets “indecent, embarrassing and revealing.” He added, “They say more about the person who said them than I ever could. We have our senior Senator who is recovering from surgery and like I said, we could be wishing him and his family well and putting them in our prayers.”
Listen to Ducey’s interview with KTAR NEWS:
Although Ducey condemned Bennett for even speculating the idea of Cindy filling the seat while John McCain was still living, he has never denied the possibility.
McCain’s death could end up in a court battle in a state that will be paramount to determining the balance of power in the United States Senate this midterm cycle.
According to Arizona state law, appointing a replacement for any vacancy in a U.S. Senate seat–and one who will hold the seat until the “next eligible general election,” is the responsibility of the governor. The winner of the election in 2020 will then serve out the remainder of McCain’s term, which formally ends in 2022.
This means Ducey, Arizona’s Republican governor, would have to appoint a Republican to fill McCain’s seat either until the next general election, or until the governor decides to call a special election. The problem with this is that according to the election code, the candidate filing deadline for the election can’t be fewer than 90 days before a primary for that special election.
So why Cindy McCain? Cindy McCain, like her late husband is an outspoken critic of President Trump, but who exactly is Cindy McCain?
The Washington Post reported in 2008: “Cindy Lou Hensley grew up as an only child, and a privileged one, in a large rancher in an upper-class section of Phoenix. Her dad, Jim Hensley, founded what became a large Anheuser-Busch distributorship, and her mom, Marguerite, was a proper belle who emphasized impeccable manners.”
The Post adds that Mrs. McCain’s wealth “may” exceed $100 million (in 2008 when the article was written), Business Insider put the McCain fortune over $200 million today.
What’s not mentioned in the Post’s article is how Cindy’s father, Jim Hensley, was one of the leading fixtures in the Arizona branch of a national organized crime syndicate. Hensley was an Arizona businessman who ended up taking the rap for a man named Kemper Marley Sr., over a liquor violation case back in 1948.
In 1945, Hensley and his brother Eugene started working for powerful Phoenix businessman Kemper Marley, who owned United Sales Company in Phoenix and United Distributors in Tucson. Marley had cornered a large share of Arizona’s wholesale liquor business after the lifting in 1933 of Prohibition.
In 1948, Jim and Eugene Hensley were indicted for falsifying approximately 1,284 liquor records to conceal the illegal distribution of whiskey against post-war rationing regulations. The brothers were convicted in U.S. District Court on federal charges of conspiracy and in addition, Jim Hensley was also convicted on seven other cases of filing false liquor records. His brother Eugene received one year in prison at sentencing, where Jim only received a six-month suspended sentence. Both United Distributors and Unites Sales were convicted and fined $2,000 a piece, while the brothers were also fined $2,000 each.
Marley was supposedly a mob boss. According to the Albuquerque Journal, in a New Mexico State Police report dated 1953, Kemper Marley, “Is reputed to be the financial backer for the bookies” and “owned a wire service formerly operated in connection with bookmaking of the Al Capone gang.” Marley was also suspected, although never charged, of ordering the car bomb assassination of journalist Ken Bolles in 1976.
Kemper Marley was the Meyer Lansky crime syndicate’s chief Arizona operative, and front man for the Bronfman family, who were key players in the Lansky syndicate. During Prohibition, the control of liquor was being funneled to local Lansky syndicate functionaries in the United States, that included Al Capone in Chicago, by none other than the Canadian-based Bronfman family–(Seagram Company Ltd. in Montreal, Canada)
Even though Jim Hensley was now a convicted felon, he was granted a state liquor license in 1955 (and a federal liquor licence later on), to found a beer distribution hub. Hensley switched to distributing exclusively Anheuser-Busch beer and by 1980 Hensley & Company Wholesale and Hensley & Company Distributors had made Hensley a multi-millionaire.
In 1982, Hensley hired his new son-in-law, John McCain, as Vice President of Public Relations for Hensley & Company offering him $50,000–an increase of $5,000 more from what it paid to be a naval captain. Hensley’s influential ties throughout Arizona, along with his vast fortune helped McCain win his very first campaign for the U.S. Senate.
The very same year, Cindy was able to draw over $700,000 in salary and bonuses from Hensley-related enterprises. The Hensley family loaned John’s campaign more than $160,000, around a third of what he raised in total during the race.
The Bronfman‘s were essentially the “godfathers” behind the career of John McCain.
Do we really need another McCain in the Senate, be it Cindy or their daughter Meghan?
Even if Ducey loses his primary-an unlikely event, most in Phoenix say-he is still the one person who would have the power to name McCain’s successor. If Ducey wins his primary and then his general, he will be able to name whomever he sees fit to fill the seat, even a lame duck.