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Senator John McCain Passes The Buck On Polygamy

Senator John McCain Passes The Buck On Polygamy

By Suzan Mazur

Senator John McCain – Image Cincinnati Pretender

To be fair, while the FLDS, America's largest polygamy cult, is incorporated in Utah -- members live and vote on either side of the Utah-Arizona border. That means media darling John McCain's (R--AZ) stance on polygamy is also an issue [ Scoop: Reports Reconfirm Hatch Said He Condones Polygamy], particularly because of McCain's 2008 US presidential aspirations.

McCain twice ducked my requests for comment for articles on polygamy, first in 2000 for the front page of the Weekend Financial Times Seven brides for one brother: Plural marriage is rife in the western United States, and then for a piece that ran March 2005 both in Scoop and CounterPunch, where I noted:

"Arizona is even less responsive on the Babyland issue [unmarked children's graves in the FLDS canyonlands]. John McCain (R - AZ), who is incensed about Iraq POW humiliation, takes campaign contributions in part from Mohave County where the FLDS is headquartered on the Arizona side of the border. McCain failed to comment for my Financial Times October 2000 cover story on polygamy and his assistant press secretary, Crystal Benton, told me last year regarding the Babyland matter that his schedule was "too hectic" for him to make a statement, although she wouldn't want it to be reported that the Senator had "no comment".

Funny the night before Benton told me McCain's schedule was too hectic, he appeared on MSNBC's Hardball promoting his new book (he's a frequent guest). He's also found time to host Saturday Night Live."

Finding any other comment on polygamy from either of the two US senators from Arizona - both Republicans: John McCain and John Kyl - is an exhausting exercise.

Senator John Kyl

It appears to be a game of "don't ask, don't tell" and "pass the buck".

McCain did just that in a response to Jay Beswick, a tireless child advocate and former resident of Utah, with more files on US polygamy than the FBI it seems. Beswick wrote a letter to McCain about polygamy on his graffiti action organization's stationery when he was living with his family in Hurricane, Utah on the outskirts of the FLDS twin towns of Hildale-Colorado City.

Here's the letter McCain sent back, mysteriously addressed to "Liz Best" (Beswick has no idea who Liz Best is). In the letter McCain redirects "Liz" to Senator Bob Bennett (R--UT) for answers (see Most Wanted In Polygamy Coverup for Bennett profile):

Beswick claims the hands-off policy is a continuation of what was going on during Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt's time and cites a 1986 Associated Press article in which Babbitt said FLDS residents are "hardworking, God-fearing" people. Hildale attorney Ron Thompson and Babbitt were personal friends at the time, according to Beswick.

Beswick also comments that neither McCain nor Kyl has helped Arizona anti-polygamy activists rescue women in their jurisdictions from the polygamy cult. He cites Flora Jessop pressing the Arizona Attorney General's office and Arizona's US Congressmen J.D. Hayworth and John Shadegg, as well as Senator McCain, to help free Jessop's 13-year old sister from the FLDS after the girl had been raped.

Jessop said she got no assistance.

Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson suggests that if federal and state officials are really serious about dismantling FLDS polygamy, they could request Colorado City residents to provide birth certificates for their children and DNA samples to determine who the parents actually are.

But there is no defense for the inaction of McCain, Kyl, J.D. Hayworth and other Arizona leaders regarding the polygamy issue, since there is only one side to the story:

Polygamy is a human rights issue -- it violates the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) -- which 182 countries of the world have signed -- including the United States of America.


Suzan Mazur has traveled through the western US covering the polygamy story, contributing a series on the subject to the Financial Times, writing for the editorial pages of Newsday and the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as Maclean's, CounterPunch and Scoop. She has been a guest on Fox Television News with Paula Zahn and Bill O'Reilly discussing the issue and on numerous radio shows.
Email: sznmzr @
Email: Jay Beswick: patches @

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