August 26, 2004 letter from Mary Beth Cahill to Ken Mehlman

Dear Mr. Mehlman:

For three weeks now, your campaign has been saying there are no ties between the Bush campaign and “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”  But the web of connections grows wider and wider every day.  Yesterday we saw confirmation of another connection when your general counsel, Benjamin Ginsberg, was forced to resign for providing legal advice for this group. 
Enclosed you will find a chart that makes clear the web of connections between President Bush and the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”  Now that you have this chart and the accompanying fact sheet to back it up, I wanted to ask you several specific questions that deserve your prompt response.
1.      Ken Cordier served on the Bush Veterans Steering Committee and also stars in the latest “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” smear ad.  As a member of the steering committee presumably he was involved in policy development.  What information about the Bush campaign’s veterans policy did he share with the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?”  Did he ever discuss his activities with this smear group with anyone in the Bush campaign?  How many times did “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” activities come up at Bush Veterans Steering Committee meetings?
2.      Yesterday on Fox News Karl Rove confirmed that he and Bob Perry are longtime friends.  Bob Perry is the largest contributor to the Texas Republican Party and a longtime supporter of President Bush.  When was the last time Karl Rove and Bob Perry spoke, and did they discuss the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?”
3.      Based on newspaper accounts, we know Merrie Spaeth was involved in the underhanded shadow campaign against John McCain in 2000.  She also helped organize the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” and did the debate prep for President H. W. Bush.  She has also admitted that she advised Bush Administration officials in the White House as recently as last year. Was Merrie Spaeth ever contacted by anyone from the Bush campaign, including you, about “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?”
4.      John O’Neill’s law firm, Clements, O’Neill, Pierce, Wilson & Fulkerson, has many connections to President Bush.  In fact, Margaret Wilson, Mr. O’Neill’s law partner, served as General Counsel to Governor Bush and followed him to Washington, where she worked as Deputy Counsel for the Department of Commerce.  Did she ever discuss “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” with President Bush, members of his administration or any Bush-Cheney campaign officials? 
5.      If you say there’s no connection, why did the Bush-Cheney campaign office in Florida pass out “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” flyers to promote a joint anti-John Kerry rally in Gainsville, Florida last weekend?
6.      According to news reports, you have worked with “Progress for America,” a newly formed 527 group that has announced it’s going to spend $35 million to attack John Kerry and whose executive director is a top advisor to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”  Have you had any additional contact with this group?  Have Karl Rove or other Bush officials – either in the White House or on the Bush-Cheney campaign – had contacts with this group?
7.      How many times did Karl Rove and Benjamin Ginsberg meet?  Did they ever discuss the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?” 
These questions go to the heart of why so many people now believe that “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” is nothing more than a front group for the Bush-Cheney campaign.  The longer President Bush waits to specifically condemn this smear, the more it looks like he’s behind it.
It’s time for the President to stand up and specifically condemn “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”  Not only is this a smear on John Kerry’s distinguished military service; it’s an insult to all veterans who’ve served their country. 
The American people want to hear an honest discussion of the issues.  They’re concerned about the economy and the troubling situation in Iraq.  Today, as we enter week four of this smear campaign, I’m asking you to talk to the President and ask him to heed Senator McCain’s call and condemn this smear.  The American people deserve better.
Mary Beth Cahill