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Lieberman and Swiftie Donor, Bound by Admiration.... and Money

Quid pro quo, or no?

That's the question that came to mind when we found out that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) made a guest appearance at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week to lobby for Sam Fox to become ambassador to Belgium. Why would Lieberman, who isn't even a member of the committee, show up at Fox's confirmation hearing to heap praise on the wealthy Republican donor?

Lieberman showed up early to the hearing - more than an hour before Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), who is a member of the committee,calmly waltzed in and grilled Fox on why he helped bankroll the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smear campaign against Kerry in 2004 - and said the following:

"Sam Fox represents what America is all about and that's why he will be, when confirmed, an extraordinary ambassador."

If America is all about giving hefty campaign cash to Joe Lieberman, then Sam Fox certainly embodies that spirit.

According to a story in the Hartford Courant, Fox and his wife each gave a $10,500 donation to Lieberman's Senate campaign against Democrat Ned Lamont on the day after the 2006 election.

Hmmm, does that explain why Lieberman went out of his way to make a special appearance before a committee to which he doesn't belong to advocate for the donor? 'Course not, Lieberman campaign spokesman Marshall Wittmann explains.

"Senator Lieberman supports Mr. Fox's nomination because he is impressed with his life story, his credentials and the strong bipartisan support that he has received from the people who know him best in Missouri," Wittmann tells the Sleuth.

Lieberman himself praised Fox at the hearing this way: "A child of immigrants born in very modest means just had the dream that in America, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it."

Fox, a wealthy St. Louis businessman, told the Courant's David Lightman that he "gained great respect for Sen. Lieberman during his run for the vice presidency in 2000" and that "over the years my respect and admiration grew."

Unfortunately for us facial reaction spotters, Kerry hadn't entered the room yet when Lieberman was lavishing praise on Fox. And Kerry's office declined comment when we asked today what the Swift Booted Senator thought of Lieberman's pro-Fox soliloquy.

But it didn't sit well with at least one Democrat on the panel. An aide to one of the Democratic senators who sits on the foreign relations panel, bemoaned "Lieberman's kissy-kiss with Sam Fox."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 8, 2007; 7:00 PM ET
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