Intel backdoor to White House questioned

Bush advisor's $100k in 'zilla shares looks bad

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Senior Bush advisor Karl Rove appears to have been in the loop to some extent regarding Bush Administration approval of the merger of Dutch semiconductor lithography outfit ASML and US outfit Silicon Valley Group (SVG), which Intel strongly recommended, whilst in possession of over $100,000 worth of Intel shares, the Associated Press reports.

The merger, which has since been approved (svg.com is already re-directing to ASML), will create the world's largest supplier of semiconductor lithography equipment, chiefly for its principal consumer, Intel.

Rove met with Intel lobbyist Jim Jarrett and its CEO Craig Barrett some time ago so that the men could pitch the proposed deal; but according to the official line, he referred them to other, presumably disinterested, members of the Administration, and left it at that.

Intel says it was shocked, shocked, to learn that Rove was a shareholder at the time.

The White House says Rove "does not recall" ever having brought the matter to the attention of the Knucklehead-in-Chief.

Intel lobbyists also had dealings with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who were instrumental in approving the deal.

Unfortunately, Rove was CC'ed in correspondence from Intel regarding its pet merger right up to the time it was approved, the AP claims.

While Rove might well have behaved himself and remained mute on the topic, the correspondence creates an unfortunate appearance for a President straining to distance himself from the spectacular appearance problems of his immediate predecessor.

Interestingly, Rove's Intel shares fell by about twenty per cent during his early tenure in the White House, but had mostly recovered before he finally sold them last Thursday.

If something like this had involved a senior Clinton advisor, the Republicans would already be bellowing in the halls of Congress that a special prosecutor needs to be nominated to look into it at great public expense.

Thank heaven they've got their boy in the White House now, and have since cancelled that particular circus. ®


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