Lawyer Advising Vets Quits Bush Campaign

A rather bizarre story:

Lawyer Advising Vets Quits Bush Campaign (AP)

An election lawyer for President Bush who also has been advising a veterans group running TV ads against Democrat John Kerry resigned Wednesday from Bush’s campaign. “I cannot begin to express my sadness that my legal representations have become a distraction from the critical issues at hand in this election,” Benjamin Ginsberg wrote in a resignation letter to Bush released by the campaign. “I feel I cannot let that continue, so I have decided to resign as national counsel to your campaign to ensure that the giving of legal advice to decorated military veterans, which was entirely within the boundaries of the law, doesn’t distract from the real issues upon which you and the country should be focusing.”

Ginsberg’s acknowledgment Tuesday evening that he was providing legal advice to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth marked the second time in days that a person associated with the Bush-Cheney campaign had been connected to the group, which Kerry accuses of being a front for the Republican incumbent’s re-election effort. The Bush campaign and the veterans’ group have said repeatedly that there is no coordination.

Lawyers on the Democratic side are also representing both the campaign or party and outside groups running ads in the presidential race. Ginsberg’s dual role has drawn attention because of an ad the Swift Boat Veterans group ran accusing Kerry of exaggerating his Vietnam War record, an issue that has dominated the campaign since early August. Kerry has fired back by accusing Bush of using the group to run a smear campaign for him. Democrats have jumped on any tie, even if legal, to back up that claim. “The sudden resignation of Bush’s top lawyer doesn’t end the extensive web of connections between George Bush (news – web sites) and the group trying to smear John Kerry’s military record,” Kerry-Edwards campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said Wednesday. “In fact, it only confirms the extent of those connections.”

In Ginsberg’s letter to Bush, he accused the media of a “stunning double standard” between its focus on the activities of groups supporting Kerry and those that oppose him.

NYT has a virtually identical story, “Bush Campaign’s Top Outside Lawyer Resigns.” [RSS]

The idea that a private attorney who consults from time to time with an officeholder or candidate can not also represent other people is a bizarre one. It’s no more surprising that the Swifties would hire an excellent lawyer that tends to represent Republican interests than it is that the Kerry campaign and MoveOn.org share personnel.

Truth in ‘web connections’ (Washington Times)

As Newsmax.com reported yesterday, MoveOn.org, one of the leading anti-Bush “independent” organizations, has a letter up on its Web site from Mr. Kerry dated June 17, 2003, commending the organization for its efforts in helping to stop the “Bush right-wing juggernaut.” Also, on July 22, MoveOn.org’s founder and campaign director, Eli Pariser, sent an e-mail to its members explaining how they can host their own pro-Kerry party and included links to JohnKerry.com, the official campaign Web site. Attached in the e-mail was a letter from Mary Beth Cahill, Mr. Kerry’s campaign manager, though the MoveOn.org e-mail had a disclaimer at the bottom that said, “Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

As with money, so have many Democratic 527 organizations far surpassed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in terms of former campaign or party employees in their ranks and vice versa. In April, the Kerry campaign hired MoveOn.org’s director of special projects, Zack Exley, to run the campaign’s online communications. Though the Bush campaign recently fired Ken Cordier for his involvement with the swift boat veterans, the Kerry campaign still employs Mr. Exley.

As we noted yesterday, Jim Jordan, Mr. Kerry’s former campaign manager, is the chief spokesman for both the Media Fund and American Coming Together (ACT), two pro-Kerry 527s that have a combined total receipt of $54.1 million. Moreover, the Media Fund is run by Harold Ickes, former Clinton deputy chief of staff, who also sits on the Democratic National Committee’s executive board and was in attendance at the Democratic Convention last month. ACT’s CEO, Steve Rosenthal, spent three years in the Clinton administration as an associate deputy secretary of the Department of Labor and before that was deputy political director for the DNC. And, finally, Sam Kaplan, an honorary co-chairman of the Minnesota branch of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, is a fund-raiser for ACT.

None of this is shocking or sign of corruption. It is to be expected that people doing part-time, short term work for partisan organizations would do similar work for other organizations with similar goals during the same period. Now, if the Bush team had members advising MoveOn.org or the Kerry team had people working with the Swifties, that would be news.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Attila Girl says:

    The story here is the media double-standard.

  2. legion says:

    Really? I thought it was Bush’s double-standard – where he really, really hates 527s, but only when they’re not on his payroll.

  3. vnjagvet says:

    Legion calls for unilateral disarmament. Sound like a Kerry supporter.

  4. vnjagvet says:

    Or rather sounds like a Kerry supporter.

  5. Nick says:

    To the double-standard comment.

    Blinded by hatred and distrust of a republican. Liberals really are so open and so easily can see the truth thus they believe one of their new leaders, Michael Moore.

    The media is so bias and you and your friends are so blinded. Look at your own show first.

    I am not saying that their is coordination going on between Kerry and the 527’s that support him, but their is more proof on their linkage then against Bush.

    Bush does not gain on this. Even if Vets drop Kerry it is not enough in some of the states he needs. He would alienate more then enough if he was involved.

    Please refrain from opening your mouth without cleaning out the garbage first.

    Thank you and God Bless the President and the United States!