President Bush tried to distance himself from disgraced and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff but a photo showing him and the former GOP power broker together has surfaced.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics published the photo of Bush and Jack Abramoff on its website Monday.
The White House has refused to release any photos that show the President and Abramoff together and won’t even knowledge that such photos exist. Capitol Hill Blue first reported a year ago that Abramoff kept a photo of himself and Bush on his desk and that other photos existed.
The picture was taken at a campaign fundraiser in December 2003 by a private photo contractor who posted it on a Web site, but then was removed before it made it into distribution, said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s director.
A previous photo of Bush and the disgraced lobbyist surfaced last year but Abramoff was in the background, slightly blurry.
“This is the one they didn’t want you to see,” Sloan said.
Kim Eisler, Washingtonian magazine writer and a friend of Abramoff’s, confirmed the photo’s authenticity for The Associated Press. He said he had seen the picture at Abramoff’s house.
In response to the photo being posted, a Bush spokeswoman, Emily Lawrimore, said: “The White House has previously acknowledged that they’ve met.”
Abramoff helped raise more than $100,000 for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. He is serving nearly six years in prison for a fraudulent Florida casino deal and is cooperating with the FBI in a bribery investigation involving members of Congress and the Bush administration.
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(This article includes information from The Associated Press)