The Keating Five (or Keating Five Scandal) refers to a Congressional scandal related to the collapse of most of the Savings and Loan institutions in the United States in the late 1980s.
Following the deregulation of the banking industry in the 1980s, savings and loan associations (also known as thrifts) were given the flexibility to invest their depositors' funds in commercial real estate. (Previously, they had been restricted to investing in residential real estate.) Many savings and loan associations began making risky investments. As a result, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the federal agency that regulates the industry, tried to clamp down on the trend. In so doing, however, the FHLBB clashed with the Reagan administration, whose policy was deregulation of many industries, including the thrift industry. The administration declined to submit budgets to Congress that would request more funding for the FHLBB's regulatory efforts.
In 1989, the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of Irvine, Calif., collapsed. Lincoln's chairman, Charles H. Keating Jr., was faulted for the thrift's failure. Keating, however, told the House Banking Committee that the FHLBB and its former chief Edwin J. Gray were pursuing a vendetta against him. Gray testified that several U.S. senators had approached him and requested that he ease off on the Lincoln investigation. It came out that these senators had been beneficiaries of $1.3 million (collective total) in campaign contributions from Keating.
This allegation set off a series of investigations by the California government, the United States Department of Justice, and the Senate Ethics Committee. The ethics committee's investigation focused on five senators: Alan Cranston (D-CA); Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ); John Glenn (D-OH); John McCain (R-AZ); and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (D-MI), who became known as the Keating Five.
Charlie Keating always took care of his friends, especially those in politics. John McCain was no exception.
In 1982, during McCain's first run for the House, Keating held a fund-raiser for him, collecting more than $11,000 from 40 employees of American Continental Corp. McCain would spend more than $550,000 to win the primary and the general election.
In 1983, during McCain's second House race, Keating hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for McCain, though he had no serious competition and coasted into his second term. When McCain pushed for the Senate in 1986, Keating was there with more than $50,000.
By 1987, McCain had received about $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates.