Democrat Rep. Jim McDermott will have to fork over the $1 million in legal fees he owes GOP Rep. John Boehner in the protracted leaked tape case. Finally. Leave it to McDermott to pervert this into some kind of triumph for the First Amendment. Chutzpah:
A federal judge says House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, can collect more than $1 million in his lawsuit against Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington state.
The decision was issued in a decade-long dispute over an illegally taped telephone call. In the 1996 call, Republican leaders discussed an ethics case against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. A Florida couple recorded the cell phone call on a radio scanner and McDermott leaked the tape to two newspapers.
Boehner sued and a federal court found that McDermott had no right to release the calls. The Supreme Court decided in December not to revisit the case.
McDermott called the court fight with Boehner “a long and costly battle,” but said the million-dollar judgment was “a small price to pay in defense of so fundamental a principle, and freedom, as the First Amendment.”
Because of the protracted legal challenge, “the First Amendment is stronger today, and shielded by new case law that will buttress its capacity to protect the publication of truthful information on matters of public importance long into the future,” McDermott said in a statement Tuesday. “Knowing this, I am proud of my role in defense of the First Amendment.”
Keep a close eye on which Democrats pony up for Baghdad Jim:
McDermott has created a legal defense trust fund to cover expenses related to the lawsuit. A report filed with the House clerk shows the trust fund took in about $56,000 in the final three months of last year, for a full-year total of just over $100,000.
Over the years, Boehner has made numerous attempts to settle the case with McDermott. He insisted on three conditions: that McDermott admit he was wrong, apologize to the House and make a $10,000 donation to a charity. McDermott refused.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 5-4 decision last May, said McDermott’s offense in leaking the call was especially egregious since at the time he was a senior member of the House ethics committee.
I noted a news report last December revealing that several celebrities and Dems had pitched in to McDerm’s fund–along with his legion of loyal moonbats in Seattle who consider him a “patriot:”
Disclosure forms filed by the trust reveal that donors have included Robert Fulghum, a Seattle resident who wrote several books including “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
Fulghum reported giving McDermott $5,000 in 2001. His wife, Lynn Edwards, also sent the legal trust a check for $5,000.
Bill Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, donated $1,000 to the fund in 2003, then followed up with an additional $5,000 in 2005.
And singer Barbra Streisand gave $500 in April 2001.
Several of McDermott’s colleagues on Capitol Hill have contributed cash from their campaigns. At least two — Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., — have written personal checks to the legal trust.
But most of McDermott’s contributions have come from Seattle-area residents such as Majdi Daher, who sent the legal fund $3,000 in July.
Daher said he believed McDermott’s decision to release the tape-recording “took a lot of guts.”
“Congressman McDermott is an extremely great patriot,” Daher said. “He stood up for what he believed.
Yeah, a real patriot. But for which country?
Previous blogging on the Boehner/McDermott case here.
Update: Boehner’s office sends a statement…
At the conclusion of a 10-year court case, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement after U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) to pay Boehner’s campaign committee, Friends of John Boehner, $1,053,181.40 in attorney’s fees and costs, plus roughly $40,000 in interest to date, in addition to more than $60,000 the court already ordered McDermott to pay for statutory and punitive damages:
“Over the past 10 years, I have consistently said that Members of Congress have a responsibility not only to obey the laws of our country and the rules of our institution, but also to defend the integrity of those laws and rules when they are violated. Congressman McDermott broke the law, and as a result, he shattered the bonds of trust between our institution and the men and women we represent in the halls of Congress. I remained committed to this case in order to begin restoring those bonds, and to uphold the belief that no one – including Members of Congress – is above the law. With this decision, the American people can take comfort in knowing that these important principles have been reaffirmed.”
NOTE: In 1998, Boehner filed suit against McDermott after the Washington Democrat, then a senior Member of the House Ethics Committee, leaked to the media a tape of a conference call between Boehner and other House Republicans after the call had been illegally recorded through a radio scanner.
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