Tuesday, September 11, 2001

VP meets governors, raises cash in Ky. visit

By Al Cross

        LEXINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney, billed as the key speaker Monday at a meeting of Southern governors, put no special focus on the advertised topic of energy before hustling off to attend three political fund-raisers.

        Mr. Cheney spent less time with the governors — giving a 13-minute speech and attending a private meeting with them that lasted 10 to 15 minutes — than he did with political contributors, including some energy executives.

        In his speech, Mr. Cheney defended Bush administration policies on the economy but offered little new. He then left the Southern Governors' Association annual meeting for the fund-raisers — one for the Republican Party and two for 6th District U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher, R-Lexington.

        Mr. Fletcher's campaign, which collected $125,000 from Monday's contributors, and the Republican National Committee will pay the cost of the trip, said Mr. Cheney's press secretary, Juleanna Glover.

        The vice president did discuss issues with the governors at the private meeting, where he called for bipartisanship. Democratic Gov. Paul Patton, chairman of the SGA, said the private meeting with the seven governors lasted about 15 minutes. The ranking Republican governor, Mike Foster of Louisiana, said it lasted 10 minutes, “which is a lot for a vice president.”

        Mr. Patton, meantime, defended the White House's refusal to release a list of business leaders who met with Mr. Cheney to help develop the administration's energy policy. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said last week that it might sue to disclose the names.

        “I think people have the right to confidential discussions,” Mr. Patton said. “I reserve the right to take input from whomever I wish without revealing to the press every person I speak to on every subject.”

        After Mr. Cheney's speech to the governors and their guests at Marriott's Griffin Gate Resort Hotel, the vice president appeared to spend more than an hour

        at the Republican National Committee fund-raiser.

        The RNC fund-raiser at the Embassy Suites attracted energy executives such as Ashland Inc. chairman Paul Chellgren and Alliance Coal executive Mike Templeman, both supporters of the Bush-Cheney energy policy, and Robert Addington, whose family and company combined were the coal industry's second-largest political giver in the last election cycle.

        RNC spokeswoman Jennifer Cox said she did not know the ticket price for the event, because those who worked on it were traveling and couldn't be reached. Kentucky Republican Chairman Ellen Williams and Cathy Bailey, the state party's finance chairman and national committeewoman, couldn't be reached for comment.

        The event was closed to journalists and was not publicized.

        Ashland spokesman Stan Lampe said the company regularly gives $20,000 to $25,000 a year to the party.

        “We give because these folks understand energy policy, they understand the serious nature of the energy needs of the country,” Mr. Lampe said.

        “Vice President Cheney and President Bush understand all the delicate nuances of supply and demand that make this country go, and we support our friends,” Mr. Lampe said.

        Mr. Cheney, in his speech to the governors, said he and Mr. Bush, a former oilman, “do not accept the false choice between more energy and a clean environment. It is possible to do both.”

        He added, “This kind of balanced approach is essential if we're going to meet our country's energy needs down the road. Every step we take toward wiser use of energy and more diverse supplies here at home will make us that much less dependent on overseas supplies and less vulnerable to supply shocks imposed on us from abroad.”


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