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White House Distances President From Homeland Security Adviser Who Tried To Trade Access For Cash
Andrew Tilghman –
How much does it cost to get a meeting with top Bush administration officials?
According to one lobbyist, maybe about $600,000. And you can make that check out to the future George W. Bush presidential library fund.
The Times of London has a video of a Homeland Security adviser and Houston-based lobbyist telling a Kazakh man that he could arrange a meeting with high-level administration officials in exchange for a big donation to the future Bush Library.
In the video, Stephen Payne tells "Eric Dos," a politician from central Asia whose full name is Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov, that he can help arrange meetings with top Bush officials for Askar Akayev, the former president of Kyrgyzstan, who is now in exile in Moscow.
"The exact budget I will come up with, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library," Payne said in the video. "I think that the family, children, whatever [of Akayev], should probably look at making a contribution to the Bush library."
An undercover reporter sits at a table with the Kazakh politician and asks Payne who the meeting might involve.
"Cheney's possible, definitely the national security adviser [Stephen Hadley], definitely either Dr Rice or . . . I think a meeting with Dr Rice or the deputy secretary [John Negroponte] is possible . . .
"The main thing is that he [the Asian politician] comes, and he's well received, that he meets with high-level people . . . and we send positive statements made back from the administration about 'This guy wasn't such a bad guy, many people have done worse'."
Unlike campaigns, presidential libraries do not have to disclose their donors.
Last year Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff appointed Payne to the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which is made up of government officials, academics and others from the private sector.
Today, when reporters in Washington asked White House spokeswoman Dana Perino about Payne, she distanced the president from him, saying that "the President has probably met him on a number of occasions," but Payne has never worked at the White House.