Do you want Vice President Dick Cheney’s undivided attention for an hour? Stephen P. Payne, a Texas-based lobbyist, has some advice about how to grease the wheels for such a meeting: Make a six-figure donation to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a library and museum complex that is scheduled to be built at Southern Methodist University.
When Mr. Payne made that suggestion in a London restaurant last week, he thought he was talking to an agent of the exiled president of Kyrgyzstan. He was actually speaking with undercover representatives of The Times of London, which has posted a video of the encounter.
“I think that the [exiled president’s] family, children, whatever, should probably look at making a contribution to the Bush library,” Mr. Payne says in the video. “How big, I don’t know. It would be like maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars, something like that. Not a huge amount, but enough to show that they’re serious.”
Mr. Payne, a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee, runs a Houston lobbying firm called Worldwide Strategic Partners. He has no affiliation with the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation or with Southern Methodist. In a statement released on Sunday, Mr. Payne argues that he was entrapped by the Times agents’ “bizarre leading questions and strange hypothetical comments.”