WASHINGTON — A liberal watchdog group published on its Web site Monday a picture of President Bush and imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the kind of photo the White House has refused to release.
The picture was taken at a campaign fundraiser in December 2003, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. It was taken by a private photo contractor who posted it on a Web site, but then was removed before it made it into distribution, said Melanie Sloan, CREW's director.
A previous photo of Bush and the disgraced lobbyist surfaced last year, but Abramoff was in the background, slightly blurry.
"This is the one they didn't want you to see," Sloan said.
Kim Eisler, Washingtonian magazine writer and a friend of Abramoff's, confirmed the photo's authenticity for The Associated Press. He said he had seen the picture at Abramoff's house.
The White House did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Abramoff helped raise more than $100,000 for Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. He is serving nearly six years in prison for a fraudulent Florida casino deal and is cooperating with the FBI in a bribery investigation involving members of Congress and the Bush administration.
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