WASHINGTON – A television writer and fund-raiser for John Kerry (search) is the first six-figure donor to a new group that is criticizing President Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War.
Daniel O'Keefe (search), a writer/producer whose work includes such sitcoms as "The Drew Carey Show" and "Seinfeld," donated $100,000 this week to Texans for Truth (search), an Austin-based group that plans to run anti-Bush television ads starting Monday.
O'Keefe said his donation was prompted by the ads of another group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search), accusing Democratic presidential hopeful Kerry of exaggerating his decorated Vietnam War service record. He said he also donated out of anger over Bush's failure to fight in Vietnam and the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
"I'm a conservative Democrat, but this administration is out of control, and I've never seen dirtier politics than the Swift Boat stuff, and the hypocrisy of that when you have an honest-to-goodness American hero being torn down by the shadowy minions of a powerful family that helped a wayward son avoid his military obligations so he could party in the woods of Alabama," O'Keefe said Thursday in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "I didn't think I could as a citizen do nothing."
The Bush campaign refuted O'Keefe's comments.
"The president's National Guard service was honorable," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said.
O'Keefe said he learned of Texans for Truth after several people forwarded him a fund-raising e-mail Tuesday that another anti-Bush group, MoveOn.org, sent its Texas members soliciting contributions to Texans for Truth.
O'Keefe's $100,000 donation was the biggest so far to the group, said Glenn Smith, its founder and director. Texans for Truth has raised about $400,000 from at least 5,000 contributors since it was founded Aug. 31, he said.
The group spent about $100,000 on its first ad buy, an anti-Bush commercial that starts Monday in the presidential battleground states Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
In addition to his Texans for Truth donation, O'Keefe has given at least $29,000 to Democratic candidates and national party committees in the 2003-04 election cycle.
His contributions include at least $6,250 to Kerry's campaign and legal compliance fund, and $18,500 to the Democratic National Committee. O'Keefe said he also has raised money for Kerry, but hasn't kept track of how much.
O'Keefe is currently working on "Listen Up," a new CBS sitcom about a sports columnist featuring former "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander.
Texans for Truth was founded to counter ads run by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose first six-figure donation also came from a Texan. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, a donor to Bush's campaign and the GOP, gave the Swift Boat group at least $100,000.
Both groups are raising unlimited donations from individuals.
Smith , the founder of Texans for Truth, is also involved in DriveDemocracy.org, created earlier this year to help Texans get involved in the political process. Previously, he helped run the successful 1990 Texas gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Ann Richards, who lost her 1994 re-election bid to Bush. Smith was campaign manager for Democrat Tony Sanchez's unsuccessful 2002 campaign for Texas governor.