Confronted with MMFA research, O'Neill denied $7,000 in contributions to Republicans

John E. O'Neill, co-author of the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, denied having made $7,000 in contributions to Republican candidates and causes -- directly contradicting Federal Election Commission (FEC) records detailing his contributions. Appearing on the August 17 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, O'Neill claimed that half of the nearly $15,000 in contributions (first identified by Media Matters for America) were actually made by his “law partner who has almost the same name, Edward J. O'Neill,” but he didn't explain why the FEC lists the contributions under his name.

FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume asked O'Neill to respond to “allegations” that he had seen “on websites and so on -- that you [O'Neill] are a Republican activist and partisan ... who has given something on the order of $14,000 to Republican candidates.” O'Neill said of MMFA's research, “that is not true”; of the nearly $15,000 in donations to Republicans, he said, "[a]ctually, about half of them were mine." When Hume asked about “the other $7,000,” O'Neill claimed: “Those are actually funds, as nearly as I can tell, that were given my -- by some -- my law partner who has almost the same name, Edward J. O'Neill. I simply didn't give them. I would have been happy to give them. I just didn't.”

But for each donation MMFA identified in our original summary of O'Neill's contributions, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) database -- which uses data directly from the Federal Election Commission -- lists the contributor unambiguously as “John E. O'Neill.”

The CRP database does contain records of political contributions by an Edward J. O'Neill, John E. O'Neill's partner at a Texas law firm. According to CRP, Edward J. O'Neill donated $1,000 to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush's campaign in 1999, $250 to former Democratic presidential candidate General Wesley K. Clark's primary campaign in 2003, and similar amounts to other candidates from both parties.

Though CRP records show that both Edward J. O'Neill and John E. O'Neill contributed to then-Texas Republican candidate for U.S. Congress Clark Kent Ervin in the early 1990s, the record of Edward J. O'Neill's July 1992 donation of $250 is distinct from the records of John E. O'Neill's two $1,000 donations to Ervin in 1991 and 1992. The names, dates, and amounts of these donations are all different, and the contributions are for different amounts.

Also during his interview with Hume, O'Neill insisted, “I'm not a Republican or a Democrat.” MMFA has previously noted O'Neill's close ties to the Nixon administration, including to the notorious Charles Colson; that O'Neill voted in the 1998 Republican primary in Texas, according to an April 21 Houston Chronicle examination of Harris County records; that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are backed by a longtime donor to President George W. Bush; and that the group's media contact is longtime Republican p.r. operative Merrie Spaeth, as's Joe Conason reported in May.