- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004


President Bush has recruited his re-election campaign’s fund-raising chief and two of his other top money men to help collect millions of dollars for inaugural festivities in January.

Bush-Cheney campaign finance chairman Mercer Reynolds and Bush “Rangers” Brad Freeman and William DeWitt will serve as co-chairmen of the president’s inaugural fund-raising committee. Each of the men raised more than $200,000 for Mr. Bush’s re-election effort.

Texas businesswoman Jeanne Phillips, a former ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Mr. DeWitt’s wife, Kathy; and Mr. Reynolds’ wife, Gabrielle, are also committee co-chairmen.

The inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20. The fund-raising role marks a return engagement for all the committee co-chairmen.

In addition to helping the president raise a record $270 million for his re-election campaign, Mr. DeWitt and Mr. Reynolds, partners in a Cincinnati-based investment firm, and Mr. Freeman, a California venture capitalist, were co-chairmen of Mr. Bush’s 2001 inaugural committee. Mrs. DeWitt and Mrs. Reynolds were also co-chairmen, and Miss Phillips was the executive director.

The 2001 effort raised about $40 million, much of it in six-figure contributions from corporations. Mr. Freeman, Mr. DeWitt and Mr. Reynolds each donated $100,000.

All three men are wealthy businessmen and longtime friends of Mr. Bush’s. They all served in the president’s first administration and have stayed overnight at the White House.

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. DeWitt were partners with Mr. Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

The president named Mr. Reynolds ambassador to Switzerland in his first term — a post he left to lead Mr. Bush’s 2004 fund-raising effort. The president is reported to be considering Mr. Reynolds to succeed Donald Evans as Department of Commerce secretary.

In September, Mr. Bush nominated Mrs. Reynolds to a seat on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts board of trustees.

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