Careful observers of Bush's autobiographical claims know that he has described himself as having "worked" at a project voluntarily, when instead it appears he was forced to put in community-service time as compensation for some kind of legal difficulty:
- "I was working full time for an inner-city poverty program known as Project P.U.L.L.," Bush said in his 1999 autobiography, "A Charge to Keep." "My friend John White ... asked me to come help him run the program. ... I was intrigued by John's offer. ... Now I had a chance to help people."
But White's administrative assistant and others associated with P.U.L.L., speaking on the record for the first time, say Bush was not helping to run the program and White had not asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary co-chairman of the program at the time, and Bush was unpaid. They say White told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble but White never gave them specifics.
"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time," said Althia Turner, White's administrative assistant.
"John said he was doing a favor for George's father because an arrangement had to be made for the son to be there," said Willie Frazier, also a former player for the Houston Oilers and a P.U.L.L. summer volunteer in 1973.
... Turner, who said she has avoided reporters for years, agreed to be interviewed only after phoning her pastor for advice.
When she hung up the phone, she turned to a reporter: "My pastor says if you found me, I should tell the truth."
Even then, Turner was hesitant. About 15 minutes into the interview, she asked if the reporter would accompany her to her pastor's home because she needed her support. Once there, she talked in detail for the first time while her pastor, Theresa Times, of Bless One Ministries, and five people who had been attending a prayer meeting listened.
"George had to sign in and out -- I remember his signature was a hurried cursive -- but he wasn't an employee. He was not a volunteer either," she said. "John said he had to keep track of George's hours because George had to put in a lot of hours because he was in trouble."
A White House spokesman, unsurprisingly, denied that Bush volunteered because he was in trouble.
It's worth noting, of course, that this is roughly the same time frame when Bush was missing in action at the Texas Air National Guard. A connection between the two seems not only possible, but likely.
[Via Suburban Guerrilla.]