Simpson ignores questions about her reported snub of the President, but her dad downplays any controversy

By Jessica Voelker and Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 16, 2006 08:00 AM
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Jessica Simpson stuck to business when she appeared Thursday at a Capitol Hill news conference to support Operation Smile, a group that fixes facial deformities for underprivileged kids.

The singer did not address her reported snub of President Bush at a major party fund-raiser scheduled for Thursday night, despite journalists shouting questions about the issue. Instead Simpson merely said, “I am here to support Operation Smile. That is the purpose of my trip.”

Earlier it was reported that Republicans were dismayed when Simpson turned down an invitation to meet with the president at an event for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The group’s spokesman, Carl Forti, told Reuters, “I find it hard to believe she would pass up an opportunity to lobby the president on behalf of Operation Smile.”

As for why she decided not to attend the fund-raiser, Joe Simpson, Jessica’s father and manager, told the Associated Press, “When it became obvious that it was not just a state dinner, it was more of a fundraising event, that is the wrong purpose of why we are here.”

Of President Bush, Joe Simpson added, “We are huge fans of him and of his family, his girls. Jessica loves the heck out of him.”

As for her Capitol Hill appearance, Jessica Simpson, 25, dressed conservatively, wearing a long black sweater, grey slacks and large pearl earrings, with her hair in a bun and a white rose-shaped broach pinned to her left breast.

Said Simpson at the gathering, “The purpose in life is to walk through it smiling.” Of her experiences with the Operation Smile last year in Kenya, Africa, Simpson, who witnessed a little girl undergo a “truly unbelievable” deformity-correcting operation, said it “changed me a lot, watching the transformation. It changed my life perspective of what a smile actually represents.”

Next up for Simpson: She’s heading directly back to New Mexico to resume shooting her upcoming movie, Employee of the Month.