WASHINGTON – Although President Bush says he doesn't recall meeting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the two have reportedly turned up in photos together.
Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together.
Time reported on its Web site Sunday that its staff members have seen at least six photos featuring Bush and Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his lobbying practices and has pledged to cooperate with investigators. They appeared to have been taken at White House functions, according to the reports.
The White House has acknowledged that Abramoff attended some events at the Executive Mansion, and spokeswoman Dana Perino said Sunday it's not surprising that the two would have met.
"The president has taken tens upon thousands of pictures at such events," Perino said.
Abramoff met a few times with White House staff and attended Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002, the White House has said, but officials there have refused to disclose how many times he's been into the complex or what business he had there.
The White House also has not released any photos featuring the president and Abramoff, who was declared a Bush "pioneer" for raising at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign.
Contributions that came directly from Abramoff, his wife and one of the American Indian tribes he represented -- a total of $6,000 -- were donated to the American Heart Association by the campaign just days after Abramoff entered his guilty pleas.
The White House, after playing down the Bush-Abramoff photos and the lobbyist's ties to the president, criticized Abramoff for breaking the law. "Mr. Abramoff admitted being involved in outrageous wrongdoing," Perino said.