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Prominent Bush supporters bring president to Gate City

by Jordan Green

While local Republican activists and party operatives have provided scant details about the Greensboro fundraising visit planned for President Bush next month, Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes acknowledges he has received marching orders from the Secret Service to handle security for the event.

The sheriff declined to reveal the date of Bush’s appearance in a Sept. 27 interview, and the White House press office would neither confirm nor deny the visit. The News & Record has reported that the president will appear at the home of Louis DeJoy and Aldona Wos in the Irving Park neighborhood of Greensboro.

While the lame-duck president does not have an election this year he has made a series of quiet appearances around the country to raise money for Republican congressional candidates. The Republicans are fighting to retain control of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Despite his party affiliation, Barnes said he had nothing to do with arranging Bush’s visit to Greensboro. Perhaps the most well known Republican elected official in the county, Barnes is campaigning to retain his office against Democratic challenger Berkley Blanks.

Conforming to usual practice, Barnes said the sheriff’s office would pick up the cost of providing security for Bush rather than bill the White House or the Republican National Committee. Local taxpayers also absorbed the cost of law enforcement security for Bush’s visit to Kernersville, and for former President Clinton and former Senator Bob Dole when they appeared together at the Grandover Resort to raise money for Bennett College, Barnes said.

“It would be terrible if something happened to the ex-president or the sitting president or anybody else,” the sheriff said. “That’s not the way we want to go down in history. I’m more than happy to meet the president, just like I was happy to meet Clinton. A good time in my day is whenever we find out that he’s out of our air space. It takes a load off your shoulders.”

Barnes said the sheriff’s office has already determined their posts for the visit, and is coordinating with the Greensboro Police Department and the NC Highway Patrol to ensure that the president and his entourage make it safely from the airport to their destination.

“We block off the roads,” he said. “I already know our highway interdiction team will be involved. Our motorcycle team will be involved. Our emergency response team will be involved. We’re talking about twenty to twenty-five officers already.”

He added: “I don’t know what kind of air support there will be. The government provides that. I can guarantee that something will be in the air, and it won’t be spring.”

Linda Shaw, a Guilford County commissioner and the North Carolina representative for the Republican National Committee, said DeJoy and Jim Culbertson were responsible for arranging the president’s visit. The Guilford County and North Carolina Republican Party organizations played no role.

DeJoy is the CEO of New Breed Corp., a privately held supply-chain company based in north High Point whose clients include the US Postal Service, Verizon Wireless and the US Marine Corps. New Breed was founded as a small trucking company in 1968, according to its website, and was transformed into a information-based logistics operation when DeJoy joined the company in 1982. New Breed advertises itself as maintaining a “union-free work environment.”

Culbertson, the retired CEO of Winston-Salem’s First Computing, served as North Carolina finance co-chair for Bush’s 2005 inauguration and state finance co-chair of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, as well as state chair for Elizabeth Dole’s 2002 Senate campaign.

In terms of political involvement and campaign financing neither of the men matches Aldona Wos, DeJoy’s wife. In addition to serving as US ambassador to Estonia, Wos co-chaired the North Carolina finance committee for Bush’s 2004 reelection effort, as well as the state finance committee for the president’s second inauguration with Culbertson. Even more than her husband and Culbertson, Wos has been a generous donor to Republican candidates and organization, including two $25,000 checks to the Republican National Committee in 2004 and 2005.

Together DeJoy and Wos’ contributions to national candidates in 2004 and 2006 election cycle have totaled $82,228. Culbertson contributed $11,800 to national candidates in the same period.

DeJoy contributed a total of $4,200 to Elizabeth Dole, the senior senator from North Carolina and chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in 2005. The CEO’s giving in 2006 has focused on Republican congressional candidates, including Virginia Foxx, who is running for reelection in North Carolina’s 5th district. Other recipients include Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana; Rep. Jon Porter, an incumbent from Nevada; and David McSweeney, who is running against Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean in Illinois.

Reached by phone on Sept. 28, Culbertson said he couldn’t comment on the visit until the White House confirmed that it would indeed take place. DeJoy did not return phone calls.

In addition to playing a crucial support role for Republican candidates, Wos and DeJoy have pursued an active involvement in shaping cultural life, both nationally and in North Carolina. The daughter of a Polish Holocaust survivor, Wos was appointed by Bush to serve on the US Holocaust Memorial Council in 2002, according to her official biography. Wos and DeJoy are sponsors of the NC Shakespeare Festival, Triad Stage Theatre, the Greensboro Ballet, the Greensboro Children’s Museum and the Eastern Music Festival.

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.

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