Bush Funding Own Transition After White House, GSA Deny Money, Resources

By Christine Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President Clinton, the General Services Administration and Gov. George W. Bush are in some disagreement on how the transition to a Bush Administration should proceed, given Vice President Gore's on-going legal challenges to the election.

Clinton announced Monday an executive order creating a "transition coordinating council" that would ostensibly work with both presidential candidates on transitioning to a new administration in January. The council would also give briefing information to federal agencies to help in their preparations for a new administration.

The executive order follows a Sunday decision by the General Services Administration to withhold funding for transition activities.

"As long as both sides are still going to court, and both sides say they are, we believe that the outcome remains unclear," wire services quote GSA spokeswoman Beth Newburger as saying Sunday.

Following Clinton's comments, Bush running mate and transition team leader Dick Cheney said, "We were disappointed" by the GSA's decision, but added that he has "not taken the announcement from GSA...as definitive." Cheney said, "the government has an obligation to honor the certification of the election."

According to Cheney, the need to begin the transition process is "absolutely essential."

"At the direction of Gov. Bush, we will proceed, drawing on other sources," said Cheney. The other sources mean private funding. Cheney announced that he and Bush are setting up a non-profit organization to proceed with transition planning. The non-profit would accept private contributions but no corporate or PAC money.

"The quality of the transition has a direct bearing on the administration that follows it," said Cheney, who has participated in several presidential transitions. "It affects the building of relations between the new administration and Congress," as well as interviewing, recruiting and running FBI background checks on potential presidential nominees, said Cheney. "This year...we have already used up...30 percent of the time for transition," he said.

Earlier, President Clinton denied that he or White House staff made the decision to deny GSA funding for Bush. Earlier this month, Clinton's Chief of Staff, John Podesta, sent a memo to agency heads advising them to continue planning for a transition within their agency but pointing out that funds had not been released for a formal transition process. A source close to Podesta denied Podesta was the source of the GSA decision to withhold funds, saying the decision was made by GSA Administrator and Clinton appointee David Barram.

The federal General Services Administration is required by law to set up a transition office for the president-elect of the United States, but the agency will not release the $5.3 million in funding to help the next president prepare for office until all legal challenges to the election are resolved.

Sunday, Texas Governor George W. Bush was officially certified as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes, making him the electoral college winner and, by implication, the president-elect. Democratic nominee Al Gore is challenging the results of Florida's election on several fronts.

Though Bush's representatives requested transition funding from the GSA following Florida's election certification, Bush himself is presently shying away from the title "president-elect," until legal matters are resolved. "He prefers that we call him Governor Bush," said spokeswoman Karen Hughes.