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Bush Campaign Returns Abramoff Donations


President Bush's re-election campaign has donated to charity all the contributions from a lobbyist who has pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says the Bush/Cheney 2004 re-election campaign has donated to the American Heart Association, what he called, several thousand dollars in contributions linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud and tax evasion in a federal corruption probe that could implicate a number of high-ranking Congressional leaders from both political parties.

As part of his plea bargain, Abramoff agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and could testify against U.S. lawmakers with whom he dealt.

Mr. McClellan says the president does not know Abramoff and does not recall meeting him though it is possible, the White House spokesman says, that the two men might have met at a reception. Mr. McClellan says Abramoff attended three White House Hanukkah receptions during the Bush Administration.

Mr. McClellan says the president's re-election campaign donated to the Heart Association all money received from Abramoff and his wife, and Native American groups that Mr. Abramoff represented.

He said that is consistent with past policy as there have been what he called one or two times that money from someone guilty of wrongdoing has been donated to charity.

Mr. McClellan says the campaign waited until Tuesday to make that decision because that is when Abramoff acknowledged his guilt in federal court. The White House spokesman says Abramoff should be held to account for actions that Mr. McClellan called outrageous.

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