A lobbyist with close ties to the White House reportedly was captured on undercover video offering access to key Bush administration figures — including Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice — in return for large donations to a library commemorating the Bush presidency.
The Sunday Times of London reported that Stephen Payne, who claims to have raised more than $1 million for the Republican Party in recent years, said he would arrange meetings with senior administration officials in return for a payment of "several hundred thousand dollars" toward the library in Texas.
During an undercover investigation by the newspaper, Payne was asked to arrange meetings in Washington for an exiled former central Asian president. He outlined the cost of facilitating such access.
“The exact budget I will come up with, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library,” said Payne, who also is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
He is shown on video telling the undercover Sunday Times reporters that the “family” of an Asian politician should make the donation. He later added that if all the money was paid to him he would make the payment to the Bush library.
Publicly, it would appear to have been made in the politician’s name “unless he wants to be anonymous for some reason."
Asked by the undercover reporter who the politician would be able to meet for a payment of $250,000, Payne said: “Cheney’s possible, definitely the national security adviser [Stephen Hadley], definitely either Dr. Rice or . . . I think a meeting with Dr. Rice or the deputy secretary [John Negroponte] is possible."