Bush Library Donors To Be Kept Secret

02/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

DALLAS — Donors to President George W. Bush's presidential library probably will remain a mystery, said the foundation overseeing fundraising.

Mark Langdale, who heads the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, said that's the way some donors want it.

"It's our decision not to disclose who the donors are," he said.

The foundation will oversee construction of the library, museum and public policy institute at the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. The group had raised less than $3 million when the latest tax reports were filed in August. That's far short of its $300 million goal, but foundation officials said fundraising will pick up significantly after Bush leaves office Jan. 20.

The issue of whether to identify presidential library contributors was reignited recently when President-elect Barack Obama tapped Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to serve as secretary of state.

The foundation that oversees her husband's library, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark., had not previously released donors' names _ no law requires disclosure of who donates to presidential library foundations.

But last month, the Clinton foundation published donors' names as part of Bill Clinton's effort to avoid conflicts of interest regarding his wife's new post. The list showed that governments from Saudi Arabia to Norway made sizable contributions, as well as corporations and billionaires with interests in U.S. foreign policy.

Bush officials have said the president would not accept foreign donations while in office. Both Clinton and Bush's father had the same policy but accepted large gifts from foreigners after leaving the White House.

Noting that the Clinton list was released as part of an agreement to help Hillary Clinton join the Obama Cabinet, Langdale said, "We don't have those set of circumstances," The Dallas Morning News reported in Monday's editions.

The Bush foundation does, however, have to contend with a recession and the president's low ratings in public opinion polls.

"Clearly, we're in tough economic headwinds, so it's going to be a harder climb than it would have been a year ago," Langdale said.

But he said the foundation expects to meet its fundraising goal by autumn of 2010, the planned groundbreaking date.