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David Kuo Stiffs Clear Channel, Declared American Hero

David Kuo: Miniature American Flags for Others! - WonketteThe Reliable Source's lead item today is about former White House Faith-Based Initiatives Deputy head David Kuo, whose new book -- accidentally released in mid-October -- suggests the utterly stunning notion that the White House is playing Jesus freaks for suckers. Predictably, said book has not endeared Kuo to said Jesus freaks, or to his old buddies at the White House. Or, uh, in the "event planning" industry.


Republican fundraiser and promoter Rob Jennings has a very specific beef with Kuo: Guy didn't pay for 50,000 miniature American flags. So Jennings, naturally, has waited for Kuo to appear on 60 Minutes and then taken his claim to the columns.

Jennings was helping organize the massive "United We Stand" concert in October of 2001 (the Michael Jackson one, not the U2 one). Kuo suggested miniature American flags for all, and seemed to suggest that the White House would foot the $25k bill. They didn't, Kuo didn't, Clear Channel ate the loss, the Red Cross got stiffed, everyone saved their grudges in little mason jars until Kuo was worth attacking. Jennings' email, though, goes a little further than Amy and Roxanne's write-up:

After talking to Kuo I learned that he was also spending this time leading up to concert trying to help Greg Stevens in his effort on behalf of Michael Jackson and a film producer secure the rights to film a charity video on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. I believe this producer (a former gay porn director) is now suing Jackson over lost income on that deal.

It became apparent to me that Kuo was using his status at the White House to trade inside the entertainment industry. That was my immediate impression of him after a few conversations. He even mentioned that he and Stevens knew David Gest and had hung out with him recently.

Ok, we don't know what's "apparent" about any of that, but "gay porn" and "Lincoln Memorial" were just used within a half-dozen word of each other.

Jennings' full email is after the jump.

What I have to say about David Kuo does not concern his book or his opinions about the White House. I relate this experience I had with him because it seems to run contrary to the David Kuo I watched on 60 Minutes and GMA.

In late September of 2001 I was asked by the Clear Channel Entertainment promoters of the "United We Stand" benefit concert to assist in raising corporate cash and in-kind contributions for the event. The concert was held in October, 2001 at RFK Stadium and featured A-List star such as Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, Pink, Goo Goo Dolls, NSync and many more. Michael Jackson was the headliner and the concert was aired by ABC.

As was the case with everything at the time, this was a hurried effort which was conceived and miraculously produced in about 3 weeks. In the week before the concert the headquarters for the event was set up at RFK stadium. During this time many of the top promoters in the country arrived in town to collaborate. Most of these guys were now a part of the Clear Channel family having been bought by SFX and then sold to CCE.

Even though I am a political professional, my volunteer work was not related to my profession but to a personal friendship I have with a few of the main promoters from Philadelphia. During the week leading up to event two people started showing up to the planning meetings and I was informed that they were from the White House and would be offering their assistance on permits, VIP speakers and other tasks. Essentially these guys were the liaison to the event on behalf of White House.

The main contact from the White House was David Kuo or at least that is how he portrayed himself. I wasn't initially a part of the discussions with him regarding the White House participation in the event. But a few days away from the concert I was made aware of a suggestion by Kuo to the promoters that they buy miniature American flags for all 50,000 attendees. This could be done they said for a cost of about $20,000.

Kuo then informed the promoters that he could obtain the $25k to pay for the flags and that he knew a vendor where they could buy them. Again, this was a hurried event done on a shoe string budget with the proceeds earmarked for 9/11 legitimate Red Cross charities such as Red Cross. The promoters didn't want to spend money that wasn't necessary or covered by a donor. Kuo assured them he could get the $25k for the flags. After Kuo's assurance the flags were ordered for overnight delivery payable COD.

When the flags arrived the promoters paid by check for the full cost which I recall to be about $20k. At this time Kuo assured the promoters that he would come through and that the check was on the way. It was at this point that one of the promoters asked me to help make sure they got the contribution from Kuo. The promoters were not aware that as an employee of the White House it was illegal for Kuo to use his position to raise money for any charity.

I spoke with Kuo at this time and he assured me the money would arrive. As a political fundraiser I understand that it takes time to get contributions processed from corporations, etc... I went back to the promoters and said I'll stay on top of it but I believe they will make it happen. Kuo said Greg Stevens who worked for Barbour, Griffith and Rogers had the contacts to make it happen.

After talking to Kuo I learned that he was also spending this time leading up to concert trying to help Greg Stevens in his effort on behalf of Michael Jackson and a film producer secure the rights to film a charity video on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. I believe this producer (a former gay porn director) is now suing Jackson over lost income on that deal.

It became apparent to me that Kuo was using his status at the White House to trade inside the entertainment industry. That was my immediate impression of him after a few conversations. He even mentioned that he and Stevens knew David Gest and had hung out with him recently.

The sold-out concert took place on October 21 and raised several million for Red Cross and other recognized charities. The time and effort put in by hundreds of volunteers was amazing. The event was a financial and emotional success.

After the concert took place the promoters were closing out the books on the event and needed the $25k contribution to make up for the money they spent on the flags. Again I spoke with Kuo and he said it would be forthcoming this week. When the funds failed to show up I became a go-between with the promoters and Kuo. My two worlds were colliding: concerts and politics. I was trying to do the right thing with the promoters and not let them think that Republicans in DC were full of it.

It was about two weeks or so after concert that I got a call from Greg Stevens asking me to back off of Kuo and to tell the Clear Channel guys to give him more time. In a subsequent conference call with Kuo and one of the promoters, a scared Kuo said he would take $25k out of his retirement plan and pay off the bill. I later received a call from Stevens saying that Kuo paying from his own pocket was not possible and that they were still working on money. These guys were playing a shell game and were hoping the Clear Channel promoters would eventually get tired just walk away. Afterall, there were no contracts and this was all done on David Kuo's position at the White House.

At this point Kuo stopped returning e-mails and calls from myself and the promoters. Stevens also began to disappear in the background and finally told me his corporate guys couldn't help. He put it back on to Kuo.

Upon discussion with the promoters I called an old acquaintance, Susan Ralston, in Karl Rove's office to ask for help. I told her the full story and she informed me that she would look into the matter and get back to me. A day or two later Susan called me back and asked me to just let it go with David and that he was a good guy please just drop it because we didn't want to get him in trouble at work.

Well, that is where it ended up. Everyone just dropped it. Having seen Kuo on TV in the past few days is mind numbing. As they say in the old neighborhood, "This guy...why I oughta...."

Actually, I hope he takes his first $25k and writes a check to Red Cross on behalf of Clear Channel Entertainment and the United We Stand benefit. I also have a few phone numbers for him if he is ready to make personal amends.

He's Got Folks Waving Flags -- Red Ones [WP]

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