December 03, 2007
McDermott Will Have To Pay

It's a gloomy day here in the Seattle area, but a ray of sunshine came from the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court refused today to take up an appeal by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) of a lower court ruling ordering him to pay a fine and attorneys' fees in a years-long legal battle with now House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), finally bringing an end to the case.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Supreme Court has declined to hear McDermott's appeal, leaving the Washington Democrat with no more legal options in the case. He must now pay $60,000 in damages to Boehner, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

The case centered around an illegally taped Dec. 1996 phone calls between House Republican leaders, including Boehner, to plot strategy in response to an ethics case against then Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).  The illegal tape eventually made its way to McDermott, who was ranking member of the House ethics committee.  McDermott leaked it to the press, including The New York Times.  Boehner then sued McDermott, alleging that McDermott's action harmed him personally.  McDermott argued that he was protected under the First Amendment, since Republican leaders had promised not to take any concerted action in response to the Gingrich investigation by the ethics committee, and he was supported by a number of prominent news organizations.  The Florida couple that made the tape eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Boehner offered to settle for an apology and an admission of guilt.  McDermott was willing to apologize, but not admit guilt.  (I leave it to psychiatrists to explain why he would be willing to apologize but not admit guilt.)

I happened to read the New York Times article and remember, vividly, thinking that it was bizarre.  The reporter, Adam Clymer — yes, that Adam Clymer — seemed certain that Gingrich and company had done something wrong, but the excerpts they published were innocuous.  I am not the only one to come to that conclusion; so did Michael Barone.  In the 2000 edition of the authoritative Almanac of American Politics, he (or his co-author, Grant Ujifusa) wrote:

Amidst all this, on January 10 [1997], The New York Times printed an excerpt of a tape made by Florida Democratic activists John and Alice Martin of a December 1996 phone conversation between Gingrich and Republican leaders and advisers.  It was presented as evidence that Gingrich was violating an agreement not to orchestrate a response to the committee's action [proposing a reprimand for Gingrich], but much of it was taken up by discussions of how to comply with the agreement.

During the conversation, Majority Leader Dick Armey predicted that the Democrats would attack the committee's decision, and that reporters would ask the Republican leaders for their reaction — which would give them a chance to get the Gingrich side of the story out.  Somehow in the minds of the Martins, McDermott, and Clymer, this innocuous (and correct) prediction became a Republican plan.  Partisanship warps many minds, and the Martins, McDermott, and Clymer, have given us a striking example of just how badly it can distort our thinking.

This is not the only ethical lapse by Congressman McDermott.  He accepted thousands of dollars from Shakir al-Khafaji, an agent of Saddam Hussein's.   Though he later returned the money, McDermott showed, at the very least, poor judgment.  In 2004, McDermott accepted an award from the Seattle branch of CAIR, an organization that Democratic senators Charles Schumer and Dick Durbin have accused — correctly — of having terrorist ties.  (To the best of my knowledge, McDermott has not returned the award.)

In general, I try to avoid taking pleasure in the defeats of political opponents.  But I will make an exception in this case, since McDermott could have avoided all his problems either by following the law or, later, by doing the right thing and accepting his guilt.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(It would be interesting to know whether McDermott has attacked the Bush administration for domestic wiretapping.  I wouldn't be surprised if he has.

Note to commenters:  Yes, that's the Adam Clymer that President Bush called a major league *******, but let's keep the site family friendly and not repeat his language.)

Posted by Jim Miller at December 03, 2007 04:08 PM | Email This
1. Well, well, well, Bahgdad Jim becomes another victim in the never ending and ever expanding list of victims the Dems so lovingly pander to.

Ooh, the indignity, ooh, the injustice........

Heh heh......

Belly up to the bar, write the check, you scumbag....

Posted by: Hank on December 3, 2007 04:22 PM
2. It is time for a new exit strategy, one that removes Jim McDermott from office.

Jim McDermott should cut a check, pay the fine, and resign immediately.

The time has come for McDermott to go. When you look at the record of this case, you have to conclude that McDermott has placed himself above the law. A member of congress ought to be a citizen representative, with the highest ethics and deepest patriotism.

McDermott's unethical behavior, unworthy of any citizen, is absolutely unworthy of a member of congress. His flagrant disregard of his legal and ethical responsibilities disqualify him from office.

Of course, this is the same McDermott who opposes our troops and opposes a victory strategy in the war against Islamic terrorism.

So when McDermott puts himself above the law, it's hardly surprising,

By the way, Jim McDermott has definitely and frequently opposed wiretapping when used to disrupt and investigate terrorists.

The following is excerpted from an October Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) weekly update. In an article entield "Jim McDermott Sinks to New Lows of Hypocrisy," WSRP state chairman Luke Esser says the following:

Apparently Baghdad Jim McDermott has left his sense of irony in the same place he ditched his common sense. In a recent desperate attempt to raise money for his legal defense fund, he has cited President Bush's efforts to wiretap terrorists as a reason to send him money. Never mind that [McDermott] comitted the offense in question well before Bush was even elected or that - and here's the ironic part - [McDermott's] offense was illegally distributing a wiretapped recording of one of his political rivals.

McDermott told his donors that because of President Bush's (McDermott's words) "misuse of FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to justify a warantless domestic wire tapping program"! [McDermott] needs more cash to defend himself from charges of domestic wiretapping against Republicans. Because in Jim McDermott's world, everything is the President's fault.

Posted by: Steve Beren on December 3, 2007 04:37 PM
3. Time for a political mailer, Steve? Waiting to see what the PU and Slimes have to say? This will be interesting since up to now they had the catchall that they couldn't really comment on an ongoing lawsuit. Except, now there ain't one.

Posted by: swatter on December 3, 2007 04:47 PM
4. McDermott has a fund for the payout. Wonder if any Muslims are paid in.

Posted by: thatcher on December 3, 2007 05:22 PM
5. The concept of McDermott on an ethics committee of any type beggars the imagination. As I recall he was caught in a similar contretemps while in the state senate although I cannot recall the details. He reminds me of the class sneak from elementary schools days hiding behind doors eavesdropping on others.

Posted by: Chris Madden on December 3, 2007 05:22 PM
6. McDermott has a fund for the payout. Wonder if any Muslims are paid in.

Posted by: thatcher on December 3, 2007 05:22 PM
7. Does it kind of scare ya a little to think that guys like "Jimbo" might be running the country next year from the White house!

Posted by: St Claire on December 3, 2007 05:23 PM
8. But it IS permissible to say, for example, "That guy's a REAL Adam Klimer."

Posted by: Michele on December 3, 2007 05:27 PM
9. Or is that an Adam Kline of the 37th?

It definitely is a ray of sunshine. For a while there, I thought he would get away with it.

Posted by: swatter on December 3, 2007 05:36 PM
10. Steve B. @ 2:

Resign......McDermott is a hero in Seattle. He fits right in with the rest of the dirtbags, criminals and perverts that run the place.

Posted by: Saltherring on December 3, 2007 05:40 PM
11. Exactly. This merely elevates his martyred standing in the Socialist Republic of Seattle. If he were only a true martyr in the Islamo-facist sense.

Posted by: Organization Man on December 3, 2007 06:47 PM
12. With all of the slimey shenanigans McDermott has to his credit through the years, this won't even represent a blip on his political radar screen. The sheeples in Emerald City will vote him in as many times as he chooses to run. In their eyes, he will truly be the victim, and they will even donate to pay all of his expenses and fines. No surprises here.

Posted by: katomar on December 3, 2007 06:55 PM
13. I suggest Baghdad Jim "pimp out" Patty, Maria and Queen Christine to cover his big legal debt. Then he can ride tall through Fremont in his Prius while, like Kermit and Ron Sims, claiming to be Green.

Posted by: Doc-T on December 3, 2007 07:15 PM
14. Yes, McDermott DID complain about wiretapping. Michelle Malkin has the audio.

Posted by: Scott in Carnation on December 3, 2007 07:36 PM
15. Yup, he's scum but he's their (the 7th district) kind of scum.

Posted by: PC on December 3, 2007 08:11 PM
16. To coin a phrase from Nelson on the Simpsons.

Posted by: Publicbulldog on December 3, 2007 09:24 PM
17. Remember GasBaghdad Jim is a member of the Democrat Party. Where you can be indicted of corruption like Rep. Jefferson and STILL keep your seat...

Posted by: Edmonds Dan on December 3, 2007 09:56 PM
18. McDermott Will Have To Pay #2 Steve Beren December 3, 2007 04:37 PM:


" His flagrant disregard of his legal and ethical responsibilities disqualify him from office. "

You could be talking about Dick Derham, legal council to the King County Republican Party, and self-proclaimed author of the infamous 19th Amendment to the King County Republican Party By-Laws.

Except Dick Derham is not in public office.


Brian Thomas

Posted by: Brian Thomas on December 3, 2007 10:04 PM
19. Chris Madden #5 is correct.

Jim McDermott on an ethics committee is an oxymoron.

It will be interesting how brainless Joel Connelly and illegal voter Dorothy Parvaz will spin this in their next columns.

Posted by: Green Lake on December 4, 2007 04:50 AM
20. 'hardly a blip on Seattle's radar'...exactly! This will not affect him...because he da man!

Posted by: Duffman on December 4, 2007 09:26 AM
21. Yeeeyaaa Baby! McJerkmot slap down! An elitist gets hit in the wallet! Problem is, I will believe it when it actually happens. The dude is a slime ball and may still find a crack to ooze into.... Then still get re-elected by feeling mush heads ignorant enough to keep voting for the schmuck.

Posted by: pbs7mm on December 4, 2007 09:27 AM
22. Duffman.
This will not affect him...because he da man!

Time to up your meds. PS make sure you send more money to Jimmy boy, he needs it now!


Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on December 4, 2007 09:56 AM
23. I trust you realize AM/V that was tongue-in-cheek; I'm an 'independent' not a 'totally devoted democrat'...even I can see him as what he is! :)

Posted by: Duffman on December 4, 2007 10:16 AM
24. Duffman, good thing I just swallowed my coffee before reading your last comment. Independent voters don't proselytize the D agenda like you do.

Army Med(ic) has you branded, tarred and feathered. You just can't get anything around him. Admit it.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2007 10:29 AM
25. Let me reiterate: I'm a supporter of 'candidates'; presently I like Mrs Clinton as the most viable candidate. I have a litany of items that I do not agree with re: both parties. I have voted Repub 'once' (for Nixon) so I tend to lean towards Dem 'candidates' but I can assure you I'm in 'locked-step' with NO ONE! :)

Posted by: Duffman on December 4, 2007 10:35 AM
26. Apparently McDermott broke the law. But it's amusing that folks here forget what phone call was on the tape that he passed on: Newt Gingrich breaking a promise he had just made to not evade ethics rules. Newt was fined $300,000 for that offense. McDermott lost only $60,000 in the civil suit over the tape -- the only lawsuit in history filed by one Representative against another; the rest was legal fees.

McDermott has to pay the price for breaking the law. But I'm glad he did it, and I bet he is, too.

Posted by: Bruce on December 4, 2007 10:46 AM
27. Hi Dufman,

I'm heartened a bit that you do see him for what he is.

Posted by: M167A! on December 4, 2007 12:43 PM
28. Bruce, the illegal tape had nothing to do with Gingrich accepting the fine. If you recall, the illegal tape showed that the electeds talked about how to comply. There was a tiny snippet by someone and quickly dismissed by the others about getting around the complaint.

Bruce, et tu? Taping of electeds is OK but not of terrorists?

And if I recall the Gingrich situation, he could have and should have fought it. My word, if he were Mickey D, he would have beat it. And didn't it have something to do with book royalties- you ought to compare that to the Clintons.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2007 01:05 PM
29. Donations to McDermott's legal defense fund, from which the $60K in civil penalties and $800K in leagl fees are likely to be paid, should be personal taxable income to McDermott and he should pay the tax on the funds as well. I wonder if the U.S. Attorney in Western Washington will double-check Cong. McDermott's accounting.
T. Gething

Posted by: T Gething on December 4, 2007 01:16 PM
30. Well Duffie, you sure are making everyone laugh!


I see that Cant-vote well has her own problem with kiddy sex. What is wrong with these people!

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on December 4, 2007 01:17 PM
31. I've often thought that McDermott was ethically challenged & had his grubby hands out for all he could get & get away with. Did anyone notice that he changed ownership of his house to his new wife, just in case he lost & had to pay? I think that the judge should garnishee his wages ASAP before McDermott can claim that he's broke & can't pay. Either that or draft him into the service to pay his debts. Surely his psychiatric skills are still good enough to earn him some money to pay his debts or is he such a traitor that no service would want him & he's only fit to be an ersatz Congressperson for the liberal kooks on Capitol Hill in Seattle?

Posted by: Clean House on December 4, 2007 01:59 PM
32. Wow, I had not heard about Baghdad Jim changing the deed on his Queen Anne house to his bride-of-the-moment. I wonder if the court will view that as avoiding his responsibility to his liberal neighbors? Why didn't he just deed it to Joel Connelly? They are going to end up together eventually.

Posted by: Walters on December 4, 2007 06:17 PM
33. Justice has been done. Perhaps CAIR will come to the rescue - if they decide to fund non-terrorists instead of the terrorist organizations. Perhaps CAIR considers McDermott a terrorist against Bush, so they will put them on their payroll.

Posted by: KS on December 4, 2007 08:50 PM
34. Hi all, I'm really in a hurry here, but I was reading 20 or so posts and they were all pretty strongly anti-Jim.

I thought I'd pipe up just to cement my unpopularity here. Jim was no doubt wrong in this, and he appeared to also have let himself by used by Saddam Hussein before the war in an unwise way.

However, had we followed Jim and not warmonger George, 3200 US service folks would be able to watch their kids grow up and they'd be able to blog on sites like these...

Best wishes all, new left conservative #1

Posted by: new left conservative #1 on December 4, 2007 09:46 PM
35. New Left #1, good point, but what would we do with that extra $1 trillion? Our evil government might try to spend it on something wasteful...

Posted by: Bruce on December 4, 2007 10:21 PM
36. newleft, you used the wrong cement; it will take awhile to get cemented. You are never unpopular here if you bring the A-game.

How can you be so sure that if we followed Bagdad Jim we wouldn't be in a worse situation today? Same with the Iraqis? The problem with your scenario is that you can't freeze time. We will never know the shenanigans that Hussein and others unchecked could have inflicted on the world.

Posted by: swatter on December 5, 2007 06:57 AM
37. You didn't hear Swatter, New left & Bruce can see into the future.

Bruce thinks a trillons bucks is gone on the war, wait till Hillary get's her gov run health care. One trillon will be petty cash for it's cost!

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on December 5, 2007 01:19 PM
38. Democrats are always the first to complain about wiretapping and stifling of speech because they are the first ones to do so!!

Case in point: McDermott wiretapps conversations between private individuals. Democrat party doesn't like the movie "Path to 911" and threatens Disney with loss of broadcast license.

Posted by: pbj on December 5, 2007 03:10 PM
39. Heh Heh! It warms the cockells of me heart!

Posted by: Clusiana on December 6, 2007 08:49 AM
40. Army Medic/Vet writes, "Bruce thinks a trillons bucks is gone on the war, wait till Hillary get's (sic) her gov run health care. One trillon will be petty cash for it's (sic) cost!"

This is a silly comment on 3 levels (and that's without even getting into the punctuation):

1) The $1 trillion figure for the war is actually low.

2) Since the US spends about $2 trillion a year on healthcare now, that would be a great improvement.

3) The healthcare money helps people live longer and better. The war has killed 3000+ brave Americans, maimed tens of thousands, killed and maimed far more innocent Iraqis, and severely reduced our power in the world. Interesting comparison.

Posted by: Bruce on December 8, 2007 05:32 PM
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