Kerry gets a turn

Why did Bush's pick as U.S. ambassador to Belgium give money to the Swift Boat Vets?

Published February 28, 2007 5:00PM (EST)

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Bush-Cheney "Ranger" Sam Fox contributed $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Now that Fox is the president's nominee to become the U.S. ambassador to Belgium -- a nomination that requires confirmation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which John Kerry sits -- he seems to have had a change of heart about how his money was spent. If only he could remember.

As the Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers reports, Kerry grilled Fox about his Swift Boat contribution during his confirmation hearing Tuesday. In response, Fox told Kerry that he considers him "a hero" and that no 527 group could ever "take that away from him."

OK, then, Kerry asked, so why did you give money to a group that tried to do just that? "When we're asked, we give," Fox replied. He said later that he couldn't remember who had asked him for the contribution. And while he said that he thinks 527s should be outlawed and that he'd never give money to any group "if I thought what they were printing was not true," he also said that he "personally" would have "no way of knowing" whether a group's representations will turn out to be true at the time he's giving it cash.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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