Sunday, October 09, 2005
Still More Evidence of Cronyism in Bushland
I was trying to find a link to one of my favorite news shows when I ran across this article posted on Media Matters for America. The New York Times article explores how Harriet Miers worked a dual role after being appointed by Bush to head the Texas Lottery Commission, which was supposedly suspected of shady dealings. It looks as though some of the questionable activity centered around an employee who had information about Bush's own shady National Guard experience. Here's a clip:
"Allegations about political favors playing a role in Bush's National Guard career first arose in the midst of a lawsuit filed by Lawrence Littwin, the former executive director of the lottery commission who was both hired and fired during Miers's tenure. Littwin had reportedly been investigating what he considered improper political contributions made by Gtech, a company which had a contract to run the Texas lottery. In his lawsuit, Littwin claimed that Gtech pressured the commission to fire him by threatening to reveal that the company had paid lobbyist Ben Barnes $23 million to keep Barnes from publicly claiming that he pulled strings in order to get Bush into the Guard.
In her capacity at the commission, Miers was directly involved with Littwin's dismissal in October 1997. Littwin's lawsuit claimed that after he began looking into financial ties between the company and Texas lawmakers, Gtech pushed Miers to fire him [Houston Chronicle, January 6, 2001]. After a federal judge in Texas ruled that Miers did not have to testify in Littwin's lawsuit to provide an explanation for why Littwin was fired, Gtech settled Littwin's lawsuit for $300,000.
Subsequently -- and while still serving on the commission -- Miers was paid $19,000 by Bush's re-election campaign to investigate his National Guard record in order to "identify potential vulnerabilities early on and deflect any charges that Bush got favorable treatment," according to a July 17, 2000, Newsweek article. Newsweek reported that Barnes's allegations were a key part of Miers's investigation. That would mean that the Miers investigation -- and therefore Bush himself -- potentially benefited from Miers's knowledge of and involvement in the lottery commission."
Everybody knows Bush had preferential treatment with his National Guard stint. First, to get in at all - and later to cover the fact that he was AWOL while out campaigning for his dad. Harriet Miers appears to be a Bush loyalist first and foremost. No wonder he trusts her so much.
Conservative pundits like Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative rag The Weekly Standard characterized Miers' nomination to the high court 'at best an error, at worst a disaster' which should be reconsidered. 'He (Bush) has put up an unknown and undistinguished figure for an opening that conservatives worked for a generation to see filled with a jurist of high distinction.'
George Will, with whom I hardly ever agree (except for our shared love of baseball and the Cubs) called for the Miers nomination to be turned down by the Senate. Here's a clip from his Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post:
It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.
Thank you, George, for your eloquence. But will GW listen? I doubt it - so we'll be subjected to an awful dissection of this poor woman at the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, the evangelicals will say she will have been persecuted for her beliefs. But, to be sure, this nomination should go down in flames due solely to the fact that she is nothing more than a political crony who is clearly not qualified to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.
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