Mac Boosted Top Backer's Land Swap

Donor who raised $100K to enjoy biggest Ariz. exchange ever
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2008 10:15 AM CDT
Prescott National Forest   ((c) poweron)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – John McCain fought successfully for a bill to swap an Arizona rancher’s remote forest holdings for expensive, development-ready federal land in a deal that benefits one of Mac’s biggest campaign fundraisers, the Washington Post reports. The 55,000-acre swap, said to be Arizona's biggest ever, led to a deal for Steve Betts, the McCain donor, to build 12,000 homes on the site.

Though Betts says there’s “absolutely no” link, he got the contract after the rancher hired lobbyists who were longtime confidants of McCain. Betts, who has raised more than $100,000 for Mac, is one of a “string of donors who have benefited from McCain-engineered land swaps,” the Post reports. One opponent of the legislation claims the senator shared doubts about the deal at the time, “but somehow…kept pushing it forward”; he was eventually the key player in achieving its passage, the Post says.