It's Easy to Get Confused By John McCain's Houses

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 11:50 AM EDT

Look, I can understand why John McCain has trouble counting his houses. Are we talking properties? Addresses? Homes? Because when you have a massive ranch with a half dozen homes and four addresses on it, things get confusing.

From a press report on the barbecue McCain threw for the members of the media (no, Mother Jones was not invited) in March:

McCain said... the Hidden Valley Ranch [in Arizona] got its name from the horseshoe shape of the creek that runs through the property.
He said he built the first house on his property 24 years ago and now there are six houses on his lot.

The addresses on the ranch are 11455 E Hidden Valley Road, 11445 E Hidden Valley Road, 11415 E Hidden Valley Road, and 11405 E Hidden Valley Road. I'm going to go ahead and assume that's a sizable ranch.

Here's the closest to a full account of the McCains' properties that I can find. It's from the Politico story that revealed exactly how extravagant the McCains' spending is ("Their credit card bills peaked between January 2007 and May 2008, during which time Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another"):

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One of the Phoenix condos, a 6,600-square-foot unit for which Cindy McCain's trust paid $4.7 million in October 2006, became Cindy McCain's primary residence after the trust sold the couple's Phoenix house for $3.2 million in December 2006. She had purchased the house years earlier from her father.

Less than one year later, a corporation controlled by Cindy McCain bought another condo on a lower floor in the same building for $830,000.

And, in between, the corporation plunked down $700,000 for a 1,900-square foot, three-bedroom loft condo for her then-22-year-old daughter Meghan McCain, who was moving back to Phoenix after graduating from New York's Columbia University.

Cindy McCain, through another family corporation, spent about $4.7 million in 2004 and 2008 on two condos in an exclusive building in Coronado, Calif., an affluent San Diego suburb noted for its high percentage of military retirees.

In her recent Vogue interview, conducted from the newer Coronado condo, McCain explained that her husband, a Navy veteran, initially wasn't keen on the idea of a pied-à-terre in Coronado.

"When I bought the first one, my husband, who is not a beach person, said, 'Oh, this is such a waste of money; the kids will never go,'" she told Vogue. "Then it got to the point where they used it so much I couldn't get in the place. So I bought another one."

Through her trusts and other corporate entities, Cindy McCain also owns another three properties: a scenic ranch outside Sedona, Ariz., where John McCain has entertained staff, prospective running mates and political reporters; a three-bedroom Arlington, Va., condo that's been John McCain's Washington-area residence since 1993 and the La Jolla, Calif., condo on which the back taxes were due.

I count eight in that description. But that $4.7 million Phoenix condo is actually a combination of two different luxury condos. And you can count the ranch as one, four, or six.

For a guy who makes the government's supposedly profligate spending the centerpiece of his campaign pitch, this is all a touch ridiculous.

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