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Bush withdraws Sam Fox nomination to be ambassador

Sam Fox
Sam Fox


Washington, DC – President Bush this morning (Wed.) withdrew the nomination of St. Louisan Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium.

Fox had come under fire from some Democrats for his donation in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. That's the group whose ads had questioned Senator John Kerry's war record during his run for president.

A Senate committee was to vote on the nomination this morning, but the withdrawal now means Sam Fox will not be the next ambassador to Belgium.

Fox, 77, is founder and chairman of the Clayton, Mo.-based Harbour Group. President Bush first nominated him to the post in January. Fox is deferring comment to the White House today.

The tough questions from Kerry came during Fox's confirmation hearing last month because of a $50,000 contribution Fox made in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

The group of Vietnam veterans played a leading role in sinking Kerry's presidential hopes that year after it aired a series of ads charging that Kerry did not deserve the medals he received in the Vietnam War.

In a series of written responses to questions posed by Kerry after the Feb. 27 hearing, Fox has continued to deny knowing how the Swift Boat group would use his money. That hasn't satisfied Kerry and could pose problems for Fox if he convinces other Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to scuttle the nomination.

"Senator Kerry and other members of the committee still have questions for Mr. Fox, and it's fair to say the concerns raised during the February 27 hearing haven't vanished," Kerry spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Monday.

Among the written follow-up questions Kerry posed to Fox earlier this month: "At the time of your donation, what was your understanding as to what your money would be used for? What did you understand SBVT's purpose at that time to be?"

Fox's answer: "I assumed that my contribution would be used for SBVT's general purposes including administrative expenses, fund raising, advertising, but did not have any understanding whatever as to how my contribution would be spent."

When Kerry asked if Fox received any acknowledgment for his contribution, Fox initially replied that he hadn't. Fox later resubmitted his answer, stating, "After my assistant checked my records, we found the attached acknowledgment of my contribution."

A letter from the Swift Boat treasurer thanking Fox for his $50,000 contribution said, "The only way we can get the truth out about John Kerry is with the help of Americans such as you."

Fox is national chairman of the Jewish Republican Coalition and has donated well over $1 million to Republican candidates and causes since the 1990s, according to Federal Election Commission records. Fox is revered in St. Louis for donating millions of dollars each year to more than 150 different charities.

He did have the support of both of Missouri's U.S. Senators, Republican Kit Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill.