Bahamas Hired Bush Aides’ Firm to Lobby U.S.
A firm operated by top campaign aides to Vice President George Bush was hired in 1985 to lobby the Reagan Administration and Congress on behalf of Bahamas Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling, then under fire over allegations of corruption and drug trafficking, a document obtained by The Times shows.
The prominent Washington public relations firm of Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly Inc. was hired for what CBS News reported was $700,000 after proposing to use its “personal relationships” with the Administration to influence what the firm called “negative” attitudes toward Pindling in the Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Treasury Department and Congress.
Members of the public relations firm are now among Bush’s most important campaign advisers, including manager Lee Atwater, scheduler Paul J. Manafort and adviser Charles R. Black Jr. All three also were active in the Reagan/Bush reelection campaign of 1984.
Two other partners in the firm were Roger J. Stone, a consultant to the 1984 Reagan/Bush campaign, and Peter G. Kelly, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.
Shortly after the 1984 campaign, the firm solicited the Bahamas government with a 20-page proposal that noted Pindling’s problems with impressions that “the Bahamas is a ‘nation for sale’ inviting drug czars to use the banking system (and) that government officials are participating in the drug trafficking.”
The DEA and federal prosecutors in Florida were investigating Pindling on allegations of receiving money from drug traffickers. He has not been prosecuted but remains under investigation.
In its proposal, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, the public relations firm cited the then-anticipated confirmation of Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III as a good sign for future “progress” in improving the Bahamas relationship with U.S. drug enforcement officials.
Reports of what the firm was paid and details of what it did for Pindling and his government could not be confirmed.
Sought More Cooperation
Black told CBS that Atwater “did not work on that account at all.” He said that Pindling wanted to improve cooperation with the U.S. government in trying to “bust drug runners, and he did that and we helped.”
Wednesday’s disclosure is the second in less than a week linking prominent advisers in the Bush/Quayle campaign to lobbying efforts on behalf of foreign leaders suspected of drug trafficking. Earlier, the New Republic reported that Stuart K. Spencer, who is managing Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle’s campaign, was hired in 1985 by Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega.
In 1985, Bush was directing the Reagan Administration’s much-publicized crackdown on drug trafficking into the United States.
Bush borrows Reagan line in foreign policy speeches, Page 19.