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Acting like a four-year-old, George W has squeezed his eyes tight and put his fingers in his ears, claiming that he has no idea who is chipping in the big bucks for his half-a-billion-dollar presidential library to be erected in Dallas. He says he doesn’t want his staff to tell him the names of these special-interest donors while he’s still in office, as if his temporary ignorance can cleanse the stench of such secret fundraising by a sitting president.
But – whoops – one of the solicitors for Bush’s ego temple inadvertently outed himself. Stephen Payne, a Houston businessman and sometime political arranger for Bush, got caught on video in July offering White House favors to foreign interests in exchange for a suggested donation of $200,000 to the library fund.
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It is, of course, silly to think that George and his Oval Office handlers don’t know who is funding his legacy library, but it is outrageous that they want to hide this knowledge from you and me. After all, we pay millions of tax dollars each year to maintain these things. Yet, last year, at the behest of the White House, Sen. Ted Stevens killed a bill to require disclosure of such donors.
Not that this is a partisan cover up. Bill Clinton raised $165 million for his presidential palace, and he continues to keep his donor list tucked away in his vest pocket, safe from public scrutiny.
Let me ask a childlike question: What are they hiding? If no favors are being exchanged for these high-dollar donations, why not disclose them? Indeed, if the contributors are simply altruistic individuals with no self-agenda, wouldn’t they want their names emblazoned on the walls of a presidential library?
By the way, there’s no requirement that every ex-president has to have one of these monuments – and very few deserve them.
“Library donations kept hush-hush,” Austin American Statesman, July 21, 2008.
“Questions surround presidential library funds,” Austin American Statesman, July 21, 2008
“Getting presidents out of library racket,” Austin American Statesman, July 24, 2008.