What's in It for Me?
When it broke early in 1991, the scandal resulting
from the government sting known as AzScam
exposed the sewer of corruption and blind ambition
that is Arizona politics. What's in It for Me? is the
astonishing, often hilarious inside story of what
AzScam revealed and how it worked, chronicled
by the remarkable man who made it work.
Working with the Phoenix District Attorney's
office, JOSEPH STEDINO set up Operation
"Desert Sting." Stedino, a gruffly suave ex-Mafia
crony and Las Vegas talk show host, became Tony
Vincent, a flashy, freespending Mafia capo looking
to ensure the passage of a bill to legalize gambling
in Arizona. As word of Vincent's willingness to buy
votes spread among Arizona politicians, they
eagerly lined up to have him grease their palms.
Some he bought for as little as $600. Others, like
Representative Don Kenney, the conservative
Mormon chairman of the Arizona House Judiciary
Committee, exacted over $50,000 in bribes. Over
seventeen months, Vincent doled out a total of
more than $300,000 in bribes, while police and
prosecutors recorded it all on tape, ensuring that
this sting would be one of the most successful ever.
Ultimately, twenty legislators, lobbyists, and political
insiders would be indicted as a result of Desert
What's in It for Me? offers a panoramic view of every conceivable type of political chicanery. In these pages we witness:
legislators jockeying for the seats that will give them the most revealing views of their female colleagues
a lobbyist requesting that Vincent rub out a competing lobbyist
a former sheriff offering his services as a hit man
lobbyists peddling "studies" whose results are tailored to clients' specifications by members of the Arizona State University faculty and countless more examples of how politics in Arizona -- and the rest of this country -- really works.
Picking up where the national headlines left off, What's in It for Me?; is true crime on a colossal scale, a taut, funny, and endlessly fascinating tale of shameless villainy Western-style.