Saturday, October 23, 2004

KR Washington Bureau | 10/22/2004 | Former workers dispute Bush's pull in Project P.U.L.L.

70's Texans for Truth? Bush says in his autobiography: "My friend John White ... asked me to come help him run the program. ... I was intrigued by John's offer. ... Now I had a chance to help people."

But White's administrative assistant and others associated with P.U.L.L., speaking on the record for the first time, say Bush was not helping to run the program and White had not asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary co-chairman of the program at the time, and Bush was unpaid. They say White told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble but White never gave them specifics.

"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time," said Althia Turner, White's administrative assistant.

"John said he was doing a favor for George's father because an arrangement had to be made for the son to be there," said Willie Frazier, also a former player for the Houston Oilers and a P.U.L.L. summer volunteer in 1973.

Fred Maura, a close friend of White, refers to Bush as "43," for 43rd president, and his father as "41," for the 41st president.

"John didn't say what kind of trouble 43 was in - just that he had done something and he (John) made a deal to take him in as a favor to 41 to get some funding," Maura said.

"He didn't help run the program. I was in charge of him and I wouldn't say I helped run the program, either," said David Anderson, a recreational director at P.U.L.L.
Other accounts have suggested his service was involuntary. A book published in 2000, largely discredited, said Bush was there to serve out a community service sentence for a drug arrest. At the time, however, Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, had no formal community service program. A 1999 book, by a political reporter for The Dallas Morning News, said Bush's father had insisted on the service after Bush was involved in a drunk-driving incident.

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