"It was done so in a manner that is fully appropriate and legal and, in fact, is quite similar to the relationships between my counterparts at the DNC and the Kerry campaign and Democrat 527s such as Moveon.org, the Media Fund and Americans Coming Together."
Ginsberg, who represented Bush in the 2000 Florida recount, has served as the president's chief outside counsel in the 2004 campaign. In addition to his office at his Washington law firm, Patton Boggs, he had an office and phone number at campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va.
Ginsberg also was providing counsel to the Progress for America Voter Fund, a pro-Bush group.
Ginsberg said the Swift boat group approached him in July, and that he never informed the Bush campaign because he did not want to be accused of illegally coordinating the group's activities with the campaign.
A Bush campaign official said Ginsberg informed senior staffers Tuesday of his role with the anti-Kerry group after reporters began asking questions.
"He was our outside counsel, and because of that he has outside clients," a campaign official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. His actions were "perfectly permissible."
The Kerry campaign disagreed.
"Now we know why George Bush refuses to specifically condemn these false ads," said Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign manager. "People deeply involved in his own campaign are behind them, from paying for them, to appearing in them, to providing legal advice, to coordinating a negative strategy to divert the public away from [the] issues."
Mike Russell, a spokesman for the anti-Kerry veterans group, said the organization would continue to get legal advice from Ginsberg, whose work had included approving ad scripts.
Russell said Ginsberg was among "only a handful of attorneys in the country" who possessed in-depth knowledge of federal election laws.
On Capitol Hill, Kerry got a boost from Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Warner told reporters that Kerry deserved the Silver Star he was awarded for combat heroism.
Warner, who was Navy secretary at the time Kerry won the medal, said he reviewed the citation documents from the time and that they showed he had personally signed off on Kerry's Silver Star.
"I stand by the process that rewarded that medal," Warner said. "I felt that he deserved it and it is well for us to go on to other issues in this campaign."
Chen reported from Crawford, Getter from Washington. Times staff writers Michael Finnegan, Maria L. La Ganga, James Rainey and Esther Schrader contributed to this report.