Swiftboat funder withdraws bid to be US ambassador to Belgium
A key funder for the Swiftboat Veterans group, whose attack ads played a key part in Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) unsuccessful 2004 campaign for the White House, is no longer seeking a post that President Bush nominated him for, according to a press release.
The brief release is entitled "Withdrawal Sent to the Senate" and includes only the following detail: "Sam Fox, of Missouri, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Belgium, which was sent to the Senate on January 9, 2007."
The White House announcement was made just before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to vote today on his nomination for the ambassadorship.
Fox's withdrawal comes after contentious debate in the Senate committee deliberating his nomination. Yesterday, a letter to committee chair Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE,) written by Kerry's Vietnam crewmates, blasted Fox over his ties to the Swiftboat group, saying, "Those who finance smears and lies of combat veterans don't deserve to represent America on the world stage."
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) expressed his opposition to the nomination because, reports The Associated Press, "Fox 'refused to apologize for his behavior' during his confirmation hearing last month."
"U.S. Ambassadors need to be both responsible and credible, and Mr. Fox's support for an organization known to have spread falsehoods illustrates neither," the AP quotes Sen. Dodd, himself a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate.
The AP writes that "many Democrats blame the group for sinking Kerry's presidential hopes that year after it aired a series of controversial ads that impugned Kerry's military record in the Vietnam War."
Earlier, Sen. Kerry grilled Fox during Senate hearings. Fox pleaded ignorance to charges he was aware of the group's intent and even referedd to Kerry as a "hero." The 527 group was later hit with the largest election-law fine ever.