Evidently the Straight Talk Express has managed to flatten like a road-kill possum the ugly details surrounding Cindy McCain’s addiction to pain-killers from 1989 to 1992. Drug addiction can happen to the nicest people… and hooray for those who manage to shake it. But the McCains threw several innocent people and a charity under the bus in the process, and – with the power of their influence (the nastiest attorneys money can buy) – got off scot free, Cindy smelling like a recovered rose.
While McCain’s accounts have captured the pain of her addiction, her journey through this personal crisis is a more complicated story than she has described, and it had more consequences for her and those around her than she has acknowledged.
Her misuse of painkillers prompted an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local prosecutors that put her in legal jeopardy. A doctor with McCain’s medical charity who supplied her with prescriptions for the drugs lost his license and never practiced again. The charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, eventually had to be closed in the wake of the controversy. Her husband was forced to admit publicly that he was absent much of the time she was having problems and was not aware of them.
“So many lives were damaged by this,” said Jeanette Johnson, whose husband, John Max Johnson, surrendered his medical license. “A lot of good people. Doctors who volunteered their time. My husband. I cannot begin to tell you how painful it was. We moved far away to start over.”
McCain’s addiction also embroiled her with one of her charity’s former employees, Tom Gosinski, who reported her drug use to the DEA and provided prosecutors with a contemporaneous journal that detailed the effects of her drug problems. He was later accused by a lawyer for McCain of trying to extort money from the McCain family.
“It’s not just about her addiction, it’s what she did to cover up her addiction and the lives of other people that she ruined, or put at jeopardy at least,” Gosinski said in an interview this week.
McCain’s lawyers pulled every possible string to make Cindy’s case disappear, when if she had been a regular citizen like the rest of us, she’d have spent 20 years in the slammer for “obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresenting, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.”
Meanwhile they made Gosinski and Johnson’s life a misery, and took the charity down with them.