WASHINGTON – Although President Bush says he doesn’t recall meeting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the two have reportedly turned up in photos together.
Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together.
Time reported on its Web site Sunday that its staff members have seen at least six photos featuring Bush and Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his lobbying practices and has pledged to cooperate with investigators. They appeared to have been taken at White House functions, according to the reports.
The White House has acknowledged that Abramoff attended some events at the Executive Mansion, and spokeswoman Dana Perino said Sunday it’s not surprising that the two would have met.
“The president has taken tens upon thousands of pictures at such events,” Perino said.
Abramoff met a few times with White House staff and attended Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002, the White House has said, but officials there have refused to disclose how many times he’s been into the complex or what business he had there.
The White House also has not released any photos featuring the president and Abramoff, who was declared a Bush “pioneer” for raising at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney ’04 re-election campaign.
This is going to get a ton of attention from the media and the left. The contributions made by Abramoff to Bush have already been the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. But before Howard Dean and his ilk begin talking about perp-walking the President out of the White House I’d like to remind everybody, once again, that it is not Abramoff’s personal donations to politicians that has him in trouble. Rather, it is the contributions he directed his clients to make to politicians in return for special favors.
This is how it worked: Abramoff would approach a politician to find out if they would be willing to “play ball” for his clients. If yes, Abramoff would direct his clients to contribute the appropriate amount to the politician in question. He did not, as far as we know, route any of this money through his personal accounts or contributions to politicians. And he would be stupid to have done that. Abramoff, as a private individual, faced the same contribution limits under campaign finance law as everybody else. Once he reached those limits he could donate no more in his name. Indian tribes, however, are exempted from that law and can contribute unlimited amounts of money.
Of course, if it comes out that Bush did engaged in some quid pro quo with Abramoff for these contributions the President should have to face the music like everybody else. But that’s highly unlikely. Given what we know about Abramoff’s other dealings he did not arrange for political favors based on his personal contributions.
But that won’t stop left-wing demagogues and media from getting out the tar brush for Bush. Which is sort of ironic, in a way, given that these are the same people who are vehemently denying any connection between Democrats and Abramoff despite the fact that Abramoff directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from his clients to Democrats. Given the realities of influence peddling, it is those directed contributions which are more troublesome than Abramoff’s personal contributions.
You can read more from Rob Port at SayAnythingBlog.com