A new twist turned the fabric of sleazy good ol’ boy Texas politics last Sunday. Our dearly beloved state’s most recent dirty laundry was exposed to the world at large courtesy of the Sunday Times of London.
Perhaps you’ve forgotten that George Bush is president. I have tried to, but he keeps trying to build a $250 million presidential library at Laura Bush’s alma mater, Southern Methodist University. In addition to the controversies of whether or not the institute will be a pro-Bush propaganda outfit not subject to academic review and whether George W. Bush’s views on torture, war, and human rights violate Methodist teaching, Bush pal Stephen Payne has put the George W. Bush Presidential Library in hot water again.
The Sunday Times sent a reporter and hired an exiled Kazakh politician (Eric Dos) to pretend to be lobbyists for the former president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev. Askar Akayev served as the first democratic president of Kyrgyzstan but later became a dictator. He was overthrown in the Tulip Revolution of 2005 after stealing the presidential election.
Two years ago, Eric Dos used Stephen Payne, a Houston lobbyist, businessman, and fixer, to improve the dictator of Kazakhstan’s image by arranging Dick Cheney’s visit to Kazakhstan in May 2006. Cheney praised Kazakhstan’s democracy and denounced Russia as undemocratic despite the fact that both countries are equally bad on freedom. Pay Stephan Payne money, and Dick Cheney will say what you want him to say about your nation.
Now using a new country in the same neighborhood, the Sunday Times taped Stephan Payne promising the same kind of treatment for Kyrgyzstan in exchange for “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in donations to the George W. Bush Presidential Library. He could arrange a meeting with “maybe” Dick Cheney and definitely Condoleezza Rice. For $600,000 to $750,000 (with $200,000 in donations to the presidential library), Stephan Payne can rehabilitate the image of your post-Soviet kleptocracy. Now a congressional committee is investigating whether or not donations to presidential library, which are unrestricted and can come from foreigners unlike donations to presidential campaigns, have a corrupting influence on American politics.
Ain’t America great? Even a foreigner can get access to a president…. if you know who to pay off.
P.S. Clinton family supplemental!
- Bill Clinton pardoned a multimillionaire tax cheat who ran away to Switzerland after his wife donated $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library.