Sunday, July 13, 2008

Major Bush/McCain supporter caught on tape selling access to Bush administration officials

Stephen Payne, a Bush Pioneer who is also a Bush political appointee to a sensitive defense position, has been caught on tape soliciting payments in exchange for access to President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and other members of the Bush administration.
In an undercover video, Payne is seen promising to arrange a meeting for an exiled leader of Krygystan with Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice. (Not President Bush because "he doesn’t meet with a lot of former Presidents these days," Payne says. "I don't think he meets with hardly anyone.") All it will take for him to arrange this high-level meeting, says Payne, is "a couple hundred thousand dollars, or something like that":
PAYNE: 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. […]

200, 250, something like that. That’s gonna be a show of "we're interested, we're your friends, we're still friends."[1]
You can watch the video of Stephen Payne soliciting money in exchange for access to top level Bush administration officials here.

How close to Bush is Payne? I'm glad you asked.

Bush appointed Payne to the Homeland Security Advisory Council ("HSAC") in August 2007, giving Payne instant access to the Secretary of Homeland Security. But how close are they really? Well, consider this, Payne was Dubya's personal assistant and traveling companion during Bush's father's presidential campaign in 1988 and here's a picture of him clearing brush with Bush on Bush's ranch in Texas.[2]

So, one of Bush's old drinking buddies is selling influence, no surprises here, right? But now Stephen Payne has slithered into bed with the McCain campaign. These are the people that John McCain has surrounded himself with.

I wonder how much Payne will be able to sell access to McCain for?

Hat Tip: Think Progress

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