CRAWFORD, Texas - A top lawyer for President Bush's re-election campaign resigned on Wednesday after disclosing he provided legal advice to a group that accusing Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry of lying about his Vietnam War record.
Benjamin Ginsberg was the second person working for the Bush campaign to be linked to the group, called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Bush's campaign insists it has no relationship with the group and has denied Kerry's charge the president's re-election team is using such "front groups."
"I have decided to resign as national counsel to your campaign to ensure that the giving of legal advice to decorated military veterans, which was entirely within the boundaries of the law, doesn't distract from the real issues upon which you and the country should be focusing," Ginsberg wrote in a letter to Bush. A copy was released by the Bush campaign.
The fierce dispute over Kerry's record in Vietnam, where he was decorated for bravery, has dominated recent campaigning for the neck-and-neck race for the Nov. 2 presidential election.
Ginsberg served as the Bush campaign's long-time chief outside counsel. He disclosed on Tuesday that he also gave legal advice to the Swift Boat group, which has attacked Kerry's record in television commercials and a book.
Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said the disclosure provided "another piece of the mounting evidence of the ties between the Bush campaign and this group."
But Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said: "There has been no coordination at any time."
No coordination is allowed between independently funded groups like the Swift Boat group and a party whose aims or candidate the group supports.
As a young Navy lieutenant commanding a gunboat in Vietnam, Kerry was decorated five times for valor and sustaining combat wounds. He still carries shrapnel in his leg from one of those wounds.
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