Sunday, July 13, 2008

Because there's no such thing as bad publicity?

As I'm sure many of you know, SMU will house the Bush Presidential Library and associated right-wing think tank. (The think tank might not be on SMU soil, so "housing" might not be strictly accurate. The faculty senate might have convinced the administration to make them park across the street.) The faculty has been assured repeatedly by the administration that this association will be good for the university. I can't imagine that this is what SMU's administration had in mind, however, when they promised that the library will be good for SMU's image:
"A lobbyist with close ties to the White House is offering access to key figures in George W Bush’s administration in return for six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.

Stephen Payne, who claims to have raised more than $1m for the president’s Republican party in recent years, said he would arrange meetings with Dick Cheney, the vice-president, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and other senior officials in return for a payment of $250,000 (£126,000) towards the library in Texas.

Payne, who has accompanied Bush and Cheney on several foreign trips, also said he would try to secure a meeting with the president himself. (...)

During an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times, Payne was asked to arrange meetings in Washington for an exiled former central Asian president. He outlined the cost of facilitating such access.

“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,” said Payne, who sits on the US homeland security advisory council. (...)

Payne said the balance of the $750,000 would go to his own lobbying company, Worldwide Strategic Partners (WSP).

Asked by an undercover reporter who the politician would be able to meet for that price, Payne said: “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’.”"


Story here.
HT to Hilzoy.

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