Eavesdropper. Blabbermouth. Corruptocrat.
Rep. Jim McDermott had no right to disclose the contents of an illegally taped telephone call involving House Republican leaders a decade ago, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that McDermott, a Washington Democrat, should not have given reporters access to the taped telephone call.
McDermott’s offense was especially egregious since he was a senior member of the House ethics committee, the court said.
When he became a member of the ethics panel, McDermott “voluntarily accepted a duty of confidentiality that covered his receipt and handling of the … illegal recording. He therefore had no First Amendment right to disclose the tape to the media,” Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote on behalf of the court. Four judges agreed with him.
The ruling upholds a previous decision ordering McDermott to pay House Minority Leader John Boehner (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, more than $700,000 for leaking the taped conversation. The figure includes $60,000 in damages and more than $600,000 in legal costs.
Boehner was among several GOP leaders heard on the December 1996 call, which involved ethics allegations against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. Gingrich, who was heard on the call telling Boehner and others how to react to allegations, was later fined $300,000 and reprimanded by the House.
McDermott leaked the tape to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times, which published stories on the case in January 1997.
How’s that house-cleaning coming along, Nancy?
Meanwhile, David Keene follows up on the Feinstein Milcon story in The Hill:
…it appears Sen. Feinstein was up to her ears in the same sort of shenanigans that landed California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) in the slammer. Indeed, it may be that the primary difference between the two is basically that Cunningham was a minor leaguer and a lot dumber than his state’s senior senator.
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, usually focuses on the ethical lapses of Republicans and conservatives, but even she is appalled at the way Sen. Feinstein has abused her position. Sloan told a California reporter earlier this month that while”there are a number of members of Congress with conflicts of interest … because of the amount of money involved, Feinstein’s conflict of interest is an order of magnitude greater than those conflicts.”
And the director of the Project on Government Oversight who examined the evidence of wrongdoing assembled by California writer Peter Byrne told him that “the paper trail showing Senator Feinstein’s conflict of interest is irrefutable.”
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