Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) has shown a talent for creative cop-outs - well, here's another.
On April 9, 2003, Taylor sat down for a lunch with several lobbyists from Greenberg Traurig. Reliable sources say they met at Signatures, although we couldn't confirm it. Two days later, Taylor's campaign deposited checks from six members of Team Abramoff for $500 each, along with a $2,000 check from Jack Abramoff himself and $1,000 from his client, the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan. One month later, Taylor wrote a letter to the Interior Department to help the Saginaw land a hefty school construction grant.
The AP, in their piece on Taylor's work for Abramoff, reported that this was a fundraiser. But Taylor, trying desperately to deny that he's ever done anything for Abramoff, is not admitting the fundraiser took place - and since this is Charles Taylor we're talking about here, you can be sure that it's not a straight denial.
Taylor admits sitting down with at least six members of Team Abramoff on the date in question. But he's questioning whether the event could be called a "fundraiser." Why? Because he doesn't recall getting any money on the spot - he says he "received no checks there."
Of course, Taylor can't plead ignorance that his campaign actually received checks - but since they weren't waved under his nose then and there, it's an open question for him whether this was a fundraiser. Maybe it was a coincidence. But the AP saw no room for ambiguity: "Abramoff's firm threw Taylor a fundraiser."
But the cop-out doesn't stop there.
According to Joel Burgess, the Asheville Citizen-Times reporter who interviewed Taylor, he also won't admit that the event was held at Abramoff's restaurant Signatures... but he won't deny it, either.
And Taylor says he can't remember why he met with the lobbyists. But (it's funny the way memory works) he can remember why he didn't meet with them: it was "not to raise money or discuss the tribe." And yet he ended up raising money, some of it from the tribe.
Taylor's in for a really tight race this November and will be hit hard on his shilling for Abramoff - seems to me that his story could use some improvement between now and election day.