Cindy McCain is open about her painkiller addiction in the early 1990s—to a point, the Washington Post reports in an account of that period. Though she speaks of it frequently as a story of personal struggle, what she doesn't say is that she was in serious legal jeopardy for using her charity as a front to procure the drugs, and that her conduct affected a number of people outside her family.
McCain says she stopped using when confronted by her parents; in fact, the Post writes, powerhouse Washington lawyer John Dowd negotiated a deal with the DEA to avoid federal fraud charges by getting treatment. McCain's source of drugs was an unwitting doctor affiliated with her medical charity who ultimately lost his medical license, and the charity had to be closed. Another employee was fired, and later filed a lawsuit. The McCains in turn accused him of extortion.