Last month, the Rev Andrew Weaver, one of the leaders of the opposition to the Bush propaganda center masquerading as a presidential “library” that’s proposed for the campus of Southern Methodist University, sent me a link to an article he’d written for Media Transparency. It’s an astounding piece detailing conflicts of interest on the part of the SMU Board so serious that they approach corruption. Rev Weaver begins by noting that the campaign to site the library at SMU has been years in the making.
To convince the United Methodist Church (UMC) to stain its good name and a major university to give away its academic respectability by linking itself with a president that much of the world views as an authoritarian bully (Public Diplomacy, 2005; World Public Opinion, 2007) who has authorized and advocated for torture and international kidnapping is one nifty trick (Miles, 2006; Grey, 2006). Such an endeavor required skilled operators and years of stealth planning (Schutze, 2006), which according to SMU President R. Gerald Turner began in 2001, shortly after Bush became president. It required that the SMU administration hide its intentions from its faculty and from church leaders who would understand that a partisan institute lacking standard academic controls, whose mission undoubtedly will include justifying crimes against humanity, would be a bad idea (Weaver and Crawford, 2007). To achieve these goals Bush needs powerful friends in high places and he has them in the SMU Trustees.
He sure does. The Board is packed with family friends.
At least 25 of the 41 trustees (61 percent) have personal, financial, and/or political relationships with Bush, and many have been major fundraisers and contributors to his political campaigns. Furthermore, one of the three United Methodist bishops who serve as SMU trustees, Scott Jones, publicly endorsed the Bush project months before a formal proposal was even presented to the Board (Tooley, 2007).
Twenty-two of the trustees have donated to one or more of the Bush political campaigns and/or the Republican National Committee in support of Bush….
Whoosh. So a comfortable majority of the Board are Bush Babies and the vast majority of them are actual Bush donors. “Conflict of interest” is putting it mildly.