A Sept. 11 article on contributions to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth incorrectly reported that the group had purchased commercial time on the Discovery Channel. Michael Russell, a spokesman for the group, said he was mistaken in listing the cable channel among those that are airing the group's ad. The channel says it does not sell time to such issue advocacy groups. (Published 9/14/04)
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the organization running controversial television ads against John F. Kerry, yesterday reported a surge of contributions to bring the total raised to $6.7 million.
Most of the money came in small donations, although three donors gave in excess of $100,000: Bob J. Perry of Houston, $200,000; T. Boone Pickens of Dallas, $500,000; and Aubry McClendon of Oklahoma City, $250,000. Pickens and Perry are both $2,000 contributors to the Bush campaign. McClendon is not listed as a Bush donor.
Perry, a homebuilder, was one of the original backers of the organization. Democrats have cited his ties to President Bush and Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, to argue that the group is acting as an arm of the Bush campaign.
Pickens, a famous Texas oilman and corporate take-over specialist, has been a strong backer of Republicans for more than two decades. McClendon, also an oilman, has supported Republican Party committees and GOP candidates, although mostly in Oklahoma.
Other donors include Dallas real estate developer Albert D. Huddleston, who gave $100,000; and Sam Wyly and Charles J. Wyly Jr. of Dallas, who financed ads attacking Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the 2000 GOP primary contest. The Wylys gave $10,000 each.
The financial report "proves without a doubt that we have received genuine grassroots support for our message and, more importantly, touched off a national debate concerning John Kerry's character and leadership ability as a potential Commander in Chief," Adm. Roy Hoffmann, founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, said in a statement.
In television commercials, the accuracy of which have been undermined in newspaper articles and disputed by the Kerry campaign, the Swift boat group has challenged Kerry's service in Vietnam and the medals he received.
The Swift boat anti-Kerry campaign began just over a month ago with a relatively modest $500,000 television buy, but officials in both the Kerry and Bush campaigns credit the group with helping to drive Kerry's support in the polls down and Bush's up.
Over the past six weeks, the Swift Boat Veterans raised the $6.7 million from what they said were more than 53,000 donors. In a news release, the group said its purpose is to tell "the truth about John Kerry's military service in Vietnam and his disloyalty to his fellow veterans after he returned from his brief tour of duty."
The first Swift boat ad, which ran in early August in just three battleground states, received extensive coverage in newspapers and on television. More recently, the group has been running commercials citing Kerry's activities and statements after he returned from Vietnam and became a leader in the antiwar movement.
Michael Russell, a spokesman for the group, said an ad quoting Kerry describing his decision to throw away his war ribbons is airing nationwide on MSNBC, FOX, CNN and the Discovery Channel.
"Millions more will hear our new advertisements and public statements right up to Election Day," Hoffman's statement said.