[Vision2020] 08-24-04 Breaking AP/Fox News: Bush-Cheney Lawyer Tied to Swift Boat Vets

Art Deco aka W. Fox deco at moscow.com
Tue Aug 24 20:13:31 PDT 2004

Bush-Cheney Lawyer Tied to Swift Boat Vets

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Associated Press via Fox News

WASHINGTON - A lawyer for President Bush's re-election campaign disclosed
Tuesday that he has been providing legal advice for a veterans group that is
challenging Democratic Sen. John Kerry's (search) account of his Vietnam War

Benjamin Ginsberg's (search) acknowledgment marks the second time in days that
an individual associated with the Bush-Cheney campaign has been connected to the
group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which Kerry accuses of being a front for
the Republican incumbent's re-election effort.

The Bush campaign and the veterans' group say there is no coordination.

The group "came to me and said, 'We have a point of view we want to get into the
First Amendment debate right now. There's a new law. It's very complicated. We
want to comply with the law, will you keep us in the bounds of the law?"'
Ginsberg said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I said yes,
absolutely, as I would do for anyone."

Ginsberg said he never told the Bush campaign what he discussed with the group,
or vice versa, and doesn't advise the group on ad strategies.

"They have legal questions and when they have legal questions I answer them,"
Ginsberg said. He said he had not yet decided whether to charge the Swift Boat
Veterans a fee for his work.

Kerry's presidential campaign last week filed a complaint with the Federal
Election Commission accusing the Bush campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans for
Truth (search) of illegally coordinating the group's ads. The ads allege Kerry
has lied about his decorated Vietnam War service; the group's accounts in a
television ad have been disputed by Navy records and veterans who served on
Kerry's boat.

"It's another piece of the mounting evidence of the ties between the Bush
campaign and this group," Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said of
Ginsberg's admission. "The longer President Bush waits to specifically condemn
this smear, the more it looks like his campaign is behind it."

On Saturday, retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier resigned as a member of the Bush
campaign's veterans' steering committee after it was learned that he appeared in
the Swift Boat veterans' commercial.

The Bush campaign, responding to Ginsberg, again denied involvement with the
veterans group's ads.

"There has been no coordination at any time," said campaign spokesman Scott

Kerry, meanwhile, is the subject of complaints by the Bush campaign and the
Republican National Committee accusing his campaign of illegally coordinating
anti-Bush ads with soft-money groups on the Democratic side, allegations he and
the groups deny.

Ginsberg also represented the Bush campaign in 2000 and became a prominent
figure during the Florida recount.

He also served as counsel to the RNC in its unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to
overturn the nation's campaign finance law, which banned the national party
committees from collecting corporate, union and unlimited donations known as
soft money and imposed stricter rules on coordination involving parties,
candidates and interest groups.

Ginsberg contends that by offering legal advice to both the Bush campaign and
the Swift Boat group, he has done nothing different than other election lawyers
in Washington, including attorneys for Kerry and the Democratic National
Committee who have also advised soft-money groups. Representing campaigns,
parties and outside groups simultaneously is legal and allowed under the law and
by the FEC, he said.

"The truth is there is only a handful of lawyers who live and breathe this law.
And so because the coordination rules do not include legal services among the
prohibited coordinated activities, we provide legal service," Ginsberg said.

Larry Noble, head of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (search)
campaign watchdog group and former FEC general counsel, said it's true that
serving as a lawyer for both a campaign and a soft-money group isn't considered
automatic evidence of coordination under commission rules, but added that it
doesn't mean the FEC won't look at it.

"I think there's a valid question about when you're talking about strictly legal
advice and when you're talking about policy issues and strategic issues," Noble
said. "It's fair to ask what the advice is about."

Joe Sandler, a lawyer for the DNC and a group running anti-Bush ads, MoveOn.org,
said there is nothing wrong with serving in both roles at once.

In addition to the FEC's coordination rules, attorneys are ethically bound to
maintain attorney-client confidentiality, Sandler said. They could lose their
law license if they violate that, he said.
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