4
Okt
2005

Miers Coveruped Bush Guard Scandal

Miers was Paid $19,000 to Coverup Bush Guard Scandal
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The Harriet Miers Pic That Speaks A Thousand Words
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From Philly's "Daily News" blog:

NEW SUPREME COURT NOMINEE'S TIES TO BUSH'S NATIOANL GUARD SCANDAL

White House counsel Harriet Miers has never served as a judge before, and while this career "hard-nosed lawyer" (as she is invariably described) from Texas certainly deserves some kudos for a trailblazing career as a female lawyer, she's not a legal scholar, either.

But she does know better than just about anyone else where the bodies are buried (relax, it's a just a metaphor...we hope) in President Bush's National Guard scandal. In fact, Bush's Texas gubenatorial campaign in 1998 (when he was starting to eye the White House) actually paid Miers $19,000 to run an internal pre-emptive probe of the potential scandal. Not long after, a since-settled lawsuit alleged that the Texas Lottery Commission -- while chaired by Bush appointee Miers -- played a role in a multi-million dollar cover-up of the scandal.

Whatever Miers knows about the president's troubled past, she may soon be keeping that information underneath the black robe of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Miers, who not long ago succeeded Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez as White House counsel, is now Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:

Miers is a skilled lawyer -- mainly on behalf of big business, including Microsoft and Disney -- and the first woman elected Texas State Bar President. But her main qualifications for the highest court in the land appear to be the same as most of Bush's recent appointments: She is unfailingly loyal to George W. Bush.

Here's how Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, on July 17, 2000, described her initial foray in the morass of Bush's Guard service:

The Bushies' concern began while he was running for a second term as governor. A hard-nosed Dallas lawyer named Harriet Miers was retained to investigate the issue; state records show Miers was paid $19,000 by the Bush gubernatorial campaign. She and other aides quickly identified a problem--rumors that Bush had help from his father in getting into the National Guard back in 1968. Ben Barnes, a prominent Texas Democrat and a former speaker of the House in the state legislature, told friends he used his influence to get George W a guard slot after receiving a request from Houston oilman Sid Adger. Barnes said Adger told him he was calling on behalf of the elder George Bush, then a Texas congressman. Both Bushes deny seeking any help from Barnes or Adger, who has since passed away. Concerned that Barnes might go public with his allegations, the Bush campaign sent Don Evans, a friend of W's, to hear Barnes's story. Barnes acknowledged that he hadn't actually spoken directly to Bush Sr. and had no documents to back up his story. As the Bush campaign saw it, that let both Bushes off the hook. And the National Guard question seemed under control.

So far, intriguing...but it gets better, and more complicated. At roughly the same time all of this was happening, Miers was also the Bush-named chair of the scandal-plagued Texas Lottery Commission. The biggest issue before Miers and the commission was whether to retain lottery operator Gtech, which had been implicated in a bribery scandal. Gtech's main lobbyist in Texas in the mid-1990s? None other than that same Ben Barnes who had the goods on how Bush got into the Guard and avoided Vietnam.

In 1997, Barnes was abruptly fired by Gtech. That's a bad thing, right? Well, on the other hand, they also gave him a $23 million severance payment. A short time later, Gtech -- despite the ongoing scandals -- got its contract renewed over two lower bidders. A former executive director thought the whole thing stunk:

The suit involving Barnes was brought by former Texas lottery director Lawrence Littwin, who was fired by the state lottery commission, headed by Bush appointee Harriet Miers, in October 1997 after five months on the job. It contends that Gtech Corp., which runs the state lottery and until February 1997 employed Barnes as a lobbyist for more than $3 million a year, was responsible for Littwin's dismissal.

Littwin's lawyers have suggested in court filings that Gtech was allowed to keep the lottery contract, which Littwin wanted to open up to competitive bidding, in return for Barnes's silence about Bush's entry into the Guard.

Barnes and his lawyers have denounced this "favor-repaid" theory in court pleadings as "preposterous . . . fantastic [and] fanciful." Littwin was fired after ordering a review of the campaign finance reports of various Texas politicians for any links to Gtech or other lottery contractors. But Littwin wasn't hired, or fired, until months after Barnes had severed his relationship with Gtech.

Littwin reportedly settled with Gtech for $300,000. This all could be interesting fodder for a Miers confirmation hearing this fall. But Bush apparently went for Miers' top two credentials:

Loyalty...and a little inside information.

//www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/002383.html


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