BANKING/FINANCE : Keating's Wife Calls 'Keating 5' Senators Greedy Traitors

Compiled by James S. Granelli / Times staff writer

The wife of Charles H. Keating Jr. lashed out at the so-called Keating Five senators, calling them traitors for disavowing their ties to her husband.

During a two-hour radio talk show Monday in Phoenix, Mary Elaine Keating and two of her five daughters also blamed the media for what they called distorted views of Keating, the former chairman of American Continental Corp. in Phoenix.

Keating was convicted last week on 17 counts of duping small investors into buying the company's risky bonds at the Southern California branches of Irvine-based Lincoln Savings & Loan. The Arizona businessman, 68, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 7.

During the talk show, Mary Elaine Keating characterized the five senators, who included Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), as money-hungry fund-raisers whose attitude was: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"

"They were at our office every single day when they were campaigning, with their hand out," she said. "As long as they could take, they took, and when it was time for one of them to give anything back, they were long gone."

She denied that her husband "paid off" the senators, who were reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee this year for intervening with federal regulators in behalf of Keating, a major campaign contributor.

Mary Elaine Keating also said the family has been the target of public scorn as a result of the scandal.

"People come up and spit in our faces in restaurants," she said. "People come into airports and scream and yell: 'You crook! I hope you never sleep a night the rest of your life.' "

She also insisted that the family is "really broke" and not, as some media accounts report, living extravagantly.

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