As evidence mounts of GOP connection to anti-Kerry Swift Boat Vets, Hume and Dole deny the obvious

As evidence mounts of GOP connection to anti-Kerry Swift Boat Vets, Hume and Dole deny the obvious


On the August 25 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume said he was made to laugh by a New York Times graphic detailing links between the Republican Party and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that -- as Media Matters for America has exhaustively documented -- has engaged in a smear campaign against Senator John Kerry's record in Vietnam. And on the August 25 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, former Republican presidential candidate and regular CNN contributor Bob Dole falsely asserted, "[T]here isn't any tie" between President George W. Bush and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Hume's and Dole's comments dismissing evidence of links between the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth came shortly after the occurrence of two events that add substantially to the evidence that such links exist: (1) the resignation of Benjamin Ginsberg as the chief outside counsel to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, after his ties to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were revealed; and (2) a letter issued by the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign echoed the charges leveled against Kerry by the second Swift Boat Vets ad.

Of all the ties The New York Times established in an August 25 article and graphic, none have been disputed. In fact, the article appeared to trigger Ginsberg's resignation just hours before Hume laughed off The New York Times' chart outlining the connections; while broaching the subject with the "FOX All-Star Panel" on the August 25 edition of Special Report, Hume said, "I read it. The chart made me laugh. I have to say it's a silly chart."

MMFA has learned something else from the chart. Tom Synhorst is identified as a partner in the political strategy firm DCI Group, which employs Chris LaCivita, whom the Times describes as a "media adviser" to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2000, Synhorst's firm, under the name Feather, Hodges, Larson and Synhorst, was employed by the Bush campaign. According to a February 11, 2000, Washington Post article, the Synhorst company was implicated in alleged Bush campaign phone calls smearing Senator John McCain (R-AZ) during the South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

According to an August 25 Associated Press report, on the same day that Ginsberg resigned from the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, Jerry Patterson, Texas state land commissioner and a Vietnam veteran, said that "someone from the Bush campaign contacted him Wednesday morning and asked him" if he would travel to Bush's Texas ranch to give former Democratic Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) a letter addressed to Kerry in response to Cleland's letter to President Bush protesting Swift Boat Veterans' ads attacking Kerry.

The Patterson letter, written by the Bush campaign (and signed by Patterson and seven other veterans), stated: "You [Kerry] can't have it both ways. You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up." The letter also echoed Swift Boat Vets' most recent ad, which attacked Kerry for speaking out against the war when he returned from his service in Vietnam. "You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions," the letter said.

As Media Matters for America has noted, when Kerry testified in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his capacity as spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), he did not "accuse" "fellow veterans of terrible atrocities"; rather, he related the stories of other Vietnam veterans who came home and testified to their personal experiences in what was known as the Winter Soldier Investigation, which VVAW had commissioned a few months earlier in Detroit, Michigan. And Kerry's testimony did not blame the soldiers who reported having committed atrocities in Vietnam. But, as reported, the second Swift Boat Vets ad selectively edited Kerry's comments to distort what he said before the Senate committee: "The ad does indeed fail to mention that Kerry was quoting stories he had heard from others at an anti-war event in Detroit, and not claiming first-hand knowledge."

The Patterson letter is just the latest indication of a clear connection between Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Republican Party. In addition to that letter and the Synhorst link, there are several others:

  • Bob Perry, the Republican donor who has provided $200,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is a "longtime friend" of Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove. Perry also gave $46,000 to Bush's political campaigns in 1994 and 1998 and $3 million to Texas Republicans during the 2002 elections. Patterson, the Texas land commissioner, has received more than $150,000 in campaign contributions from Perry. And, on August 23, The Dallas Morning News reported that Perry is listed as the co-host of a September 1 GOP fund-raiser in New York City and that "those on the invitation list include former President George Bush, presidential adviser Karl Rove and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay." [The New York Times, 8/20/04; Annenberg Political Fact Check, 8/6/04; The Dallas Morning News, 8/23/04 (subscription required)]

  • Susan Arceneaux, who helped set up Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and is listed as the contact person on the post office box the group uses as its address, is treasurer of the Majority Leader's Fund, "a political action committee affiliated with the former House majority leader Dick Armey of Texas. ... Records show that like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group receives significant financing from Bob Perry." [The New York Times, 8/24/04]

  • Harlan Crow, who has provided $25,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is also the seventh-largest Republican donor in Texas and a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. [The New York Times, 8/20/04]

  • Merrie Spaeth, a public relations executive who has "helped coordinate the efforts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," was married to the late Tex Lezar, who was Bush's running mate during the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race. (The governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately in Texas; Bush won and Lezar lost.) Spaeth has also said she is close friends with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who is one of Rove's top clients. [The New York Times, 8/20/04]

  • Kenneth Cordier, who appeared in the second Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisement, was a member of the Bush-Cheney '04 National Veterans Steering Committee, an appointee to a Bush administration advisory committee, and vice chair of Veterans for Bush-Cheney '00. [MMFA, 8/25/04; The Washington Post, 8/22/04]

  • Margaret Wilson, who "became Mr. Bush's general counsel when he was governor of Texas and followed him to the White House as deputy counsel for the Department of Commerce," is also a partner in the law firm of John E. O'Neill, who leads Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. [The New York Times, 8/20/04]

  • Benjamin Ginsberg, "the Bush campaign's chief outside counsel, has also been giving legal advice to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that is attacking Kerry." Ginsberg resigned from the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign on August 25. [Reuters, 8/24/04; The New York Times, 8/25/04]

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 2004 Elections
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