Charles Keating Jr. Dies: 5 Weekly Pokes at the Disgraced Lincoln Savings Operator

Charles Keating Jr., who parlayed running Irvine-based Lincoln Savings & Loan into a starring role as poster boy of the savings and loan crisis of the late-1980s, has died, his family announced. He was 90. Keating died late Monday at a Phoenix hospital; the cause of death was not released.

Keating was famously played by James Cromwell in the 1996 Milos Foreman film The People vs. Larry Flynt. The moral crusader accused the titular Hustler publisher of ''the destruction of the soul of our country'' years before Keating crushed the souls of elderly Orange County savers and investors who lost everything.

Between pop culture and hard news you'll find the gooey nougat center occupied by OC Weekly, which allowed Mr. Keating to infiltrate our content over the years. Enjoy five examples after the jump . . .


1. Greg Stacy's “25 Reasons McCain Sucks,” October 2008

7. He's Charles Keating Jr.'s ex-BFF.
In the late '80s, Charles Keating Jr., owner of Irvine-based Lincoln Savings and Loan, also owned McCain's ass. McCain and four other senators (the infamous “Keating Five”) received ample campaign contributions from Keating. McCain partied like a pimp on Keating's dime, enjoying what he called “Charlie Keating's Shangri-La.” Keating actually boasted to reporters about buying McCain's loyalty. The Keating Five pressured regulators to overlook Keating's illegal activities, leading to a bank failure costing taxpayers over $120 billion by some estimates. It was a dress rehearsal for our current horror show, with McCain at center stage. McCain officially cut ties to Keating in 1987. His wife's business partnership with Keating lasted until 1998, but McCain insists he didn't know.
2. R. Scott Moxley's “The Regulatory Disaster That Isn't: [Chris] Cox and the media spin a tale of government red tape that should be killing American companies but isn't,” September 2005

During nearly 18 years in the House, he'd authored dozens of loopholes for businessmen who would eventually attract the attention of federal prosecutors. For example, in the 1990s Cox tried to kill a law against secret financial pacts between companies and their supposedly independent auditors. He also championed court rules that made it easier for the likes of Charles Keating (who cost taxpayers more than $1 billion) to escape justice.

3. Jim Washburn's “French-Kissing Facesitters: A brief history of Orange County sex,” February 2002

Today, you can rent porn at any corner video shop or order it via cable or satellite. A few decades ago, there were only a few “adult” theaters in the county, and they were routinely busted. (It was a bit of a scandal when it was learned that the money being used by the city of Santa Ana to prosecute the Mitchell Bros. Theater was being supplied by anti-porn crusader Charles Keating, who had not yet been caught in his morally uplifting practice of bilking retirees of their life savings.)
4. Karlene Miller's “All Talk, No Action: Was the sexual revolution really this dull?” June 2000

[Make Love, Not War author David] Allyn exhaustively chronicles how the threat of sexual revolution prompted a 1967 act of Congress to establish the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. He copiously reports how, after two years of scientific research, the majority of the commission recommended that “all laws regulating the sale of erotic material to adults be repealed.” He notes how then-President Richard Nixon's lone appointee, Charles H. Keating Jr., filed suit to block the report's publication. (Keating, you may remember, was the same anti-smut crusader who worked so fervently to protect Orange County from the notorious Mitchell Brothers and their X-rated theater.) He dutifully discloses that the report was ultimately published, that the repression of sexually explicit material took a heavy artillery hit–and the commercialization of eroticism flowered. (In that detailed vein, it's also worth noting once again that Keating, the moral arbiter and former chairman of Citizens for Decent Literature, became the center of the Lincoln Savings & Loan scandal and ended up in prison for 17 counts of state securities fraud.)

5. Victor D. Infante and R. Scott Moxley's “Merrill Lynch Mob,” April 1999

In 1990, Charles Keating, head of the corrupt Irvine-based Lincoln Savings and Loan, stood defiantly at the podium of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A reporter had asked Keating-whose privately owned but government-supported financial empire would later stick American taxpayers with a $3.4 billion bailout tab-if he thought his millions of dollars in contributions had prompted Congress members to work feverishly on his behalf against federal regulators. The soon-to-be convicted felon, who cheated thousands of retirees out of their life savings and once managed to lure five U.S. senators to a single private chat, said, “I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so.”

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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