Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Treading On Thin Ethical Ice: Tony Is Going To Raise Funds For The GOP

In case you didn't notice, Tony the Snow job had said yes to front the dog and pony political fund raising show for the GOP in the very near future. And, this really is not SOP for Whitehouse Press Secretaries.

Now if you ask me, that seems like he is treading on very thin ethical ice as a person who is supposed to be representing the president. Do notice that even he acknowledges that this was a tenuous situation and he consulted with Harriet Miers to make sure he wasn't going to get legally fried for doing it.

Anyway, you tell us: Is it proper and ethical for Tony Snow to raise cash for the flush GOP?
Q How did this all come about?

MR. SNOW: It came about when I was approached by the political office saying that we've got a lot of inquiries and a lot of people would like you to do this -- would you do it? What followed were a long series of conversations, because I think this is pretty unplowed ground -- Mark and I have been through this -- I think it's unplowed ground. And you want to make sure that you do it in such a way that you're still able to function effectively as the Press Secretary, which means that from a red meat standpoint, they're likely to be pretty dull.

What you have to do is to present a factual account of what the President is doing and not draw yourself into ongoing political disputes between Democrats and the President because that, to me, I think, would be crossing a line that I don't want to cross.

Q -- a fundraiser?

MR. SNOW: Yes, sort of.

Q Did you take some pause to think about the ethical considerations?

MR. SNOW: Oh, yes, and had a number of conversations with Harriet Miers and others. Absolutely, this was not like, oh, yes, no-brainer. You had to think it through and had to think it through in the way that would be appropriate to do it. And it's --

Q When were you approached by the political people? Last week?

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, it has been several months. It has been quite a while.

Q To your knowledge, have Press Secretaries in the past done fundraising?

MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I have not found any case in which -- there may be some cases, but I'm not aware of them.

Q Then why are doing one now? Why are you the one breaking this precedent?

MR. SNOW: I was asked.

Q Being "asked" is not sufficient -- you could have said, no.

MR. SNOW: I could have said no.

Q You've been a journalist most of your life. You tell us that all the time --

MR. SNOW: And I'm -- you know what, and I'm the President's Press Secretary, and one of the things I want to try to do is to help the President, but do it in a way that's consistent with my role as Press Secretary. And if we find that there is an unalterable conflict, then the Press Secretary role dominates. But keep your eyes out on --

Q Did people like Harriet Miers tell you what you could say and couldn't say, or you set the ground rules?

MR. SNOW: No, I've got to be able to be trusted to set the ground rules. And if I overstep, you can whack me. You don't have to blame Harriet or anybody else.

Q How will we know what you said?

Q But they're closed.

MR. SNOW: Well, most of these things are going to be open, so you'll have plenty of opportunities.

Q What are the ground rules?

MR. SNOW: The ground rules?

Q Yes.

MR. SNOW: What do you mean?

Q In terms of what you can and cannot say.

MR. SNOW: My ground rules are you stick to factual defenses and advocacy for the President.

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