White House access for donations alleged

July 13, 2008 at 8:28 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. lobbyist offered White House access in return for big donations to fund a private George W. Bush presidential library, a newspaper investigation alleges.

The Sunday Times of London reported its undercover investigation found lobbyist Stephen Payne said he would arrange meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior officials in return for a donation of $250,000 toward the presidential library. Payne said he would try to secure a meeting with Bush, the newspaper said.

Unlike campaign donations, there are no campaign finance disclosure requirements for presidential libraries.

During the investigation, Payne was asked to arrange meetings in Washington for an exiled former central Asian president. Payne outlined the cost of the meeting.

"The exact budget I will come up with, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library," Payne was quoted as saying.

Payne, who has claimed he raised more than $1 million for the Republican Party and has made several overseas trips with the president and vice president, said the balance would go to his lobbying company, Worldwide Strategic Partners.

When confronted by the newspaper, Payne said there would be no "quid pro quo" for any donations. The White House said it would not be influenced by such donations, the newspaper said.

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