Earlier this month, the Sunday Times caught longtime Bush associate Stephen Payne on tape offering access to top Bush administration officials in exchange for “six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.” Payne, who is now being investigated by the Homeland Security Department and the House Oversight Committee, made the offer to Kazakh politician Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov, who is also known as Eric Dos.
The Times reported that Dos had previously worked with Payne to arrange a 2006 visit by Vice President Dick Cheney to Kazakhstan. Dos claims that in exchange for arranging Cheney’s trip, “a payment of $2m was passed, via a Kazakh oil and gas company, to Payne’s firm.” Payne denies that any such arrangement existed.
But the Times reports today that Payne may be lying about his business dealings and that the money may have been funneled through a sister company to Payne’s lobbying firm:
The Sunday Times, however, has discovered the existence of a channel through which funds from the Kazakh government could have been readily transferred.
A sister company to WSP, Worldwide Strategic Energy (WSE), of which Payne is also president, has a subsidiary, Caspian Alliance, which is the sole US representative for KMG.
In a further link, Randy Scheunemann, chief foreign policy and national security adviser to John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, was listed in the WSE brochure as part of its executive team. Scheunemann and Associates, his lobbying firm, is reported as having represented the Caspian Alliance in 2005.
At the undercover meeting last week, Payne said Scheunemann had been “working with me on my payroll for five of the last eight years”. When confronted over the link to KMG, Payne declined to comment.
During his trip to Kazakhstan, Cheney ignored the country’s bad record on human rights and declared his “admiration for what has transpired here in Kazakhstan over the past 15 years.” Earlier this month, Payne told an undercover Times report that Cheney was more interested in what Kazakhstan “could do on energy” than “making them toe the line on human rights.”
Lindsay Beyerstein has more background on Scheunemann’s relationship to Payne here, including a picture of the two men with Ahmed Chalabi.