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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Wholly Unrelated, I'm Sure

Dana Milbank has a piece in today's WaPo that would seem to warrant (it would in a Democratic administration anyway) the launch a thousand investigations.

Four days ago, retired naval Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. seconded accusations made by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth seeking to discredit Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry's record in Vietnam. But since then, Democrats have discovered that Schachte is also a long-standing supporter of President Bush and a lobbyist whose client FastShip Inc. recently won a $40 million grant from the federal government.

On Aug. 27, Schachte issued a statement saying that after he "avoided talking to media" for months, he was reluctantly stepping forward to challenge Kerry's award of one of his Purple Hearts on Dec. 2, 1968. "Kerry had himself in charge of the operation, and I was not mentioned at all," he said. "He also claimed that he was wounded by hostile fire. None of this is accurate. I know, because I was not only in the boat, but I was in command of the mission."

Kerry has said Schachte was not on the boat that night, adding another mystery to the disputed events of 36 years ago. But other events are not in dispute. According to a March 18 legal filing by Schachte's firm, Blank Rome, Schachte was one of the lobbyists working for FastShip on issues such as the effort to win funding for a new marine cargo terminal. On Feb. 2, Philadelphia-based FastShip announced that it would receive $40 million in federal funding for the project.

In addition, David Norcross, Schachte's colleague in the Washington office of Blank Rome, is chairman of this week's Republican convention in New York
. Records also show that Schachte gave $1,000 to Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

The Kerry campaign alleges foul play. "It's amazing what a $40 million government contract can do for your memory," Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said, noting that Schachte did not challenge Kerry's Purple Heart while describing the incident in an interview last year. Schachte is listed as "of counsel" on Blank Rome's Web site, but a receptionist at the firm said he is retired, and messages left for him and a firm spokesman were not returned.

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