October 23, 2005

Harriet Miers Involved In A Shady Land Deal

This is disturbing:


Texas officials paid Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' family more than $100,000 for a small piece of land in 2000 _ 10 times the land's worth _ despite the state's objections to the way the price was determined, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported Saturday.

The three-member committee that determined the price included Peggy Lundy, a friend of Miers, and property-rights activist Cathie Adams, Knight Ridder reported. They were appointed to the panel by state District Judge David Evans, who had received at least $5,000 in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm.

The land in question was part of a parcel in west Dallas owned by Miers' mother, Sally; Harriet Miers had the authority to represent her mother's interests. Texas needed the northeast corner of the parcel to build an interstate highway off-ramp.

According to Knight Ridder, the land _ which was part of a large Superfund pollution cleanup site _ was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot. But the panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for it.

The price was later reduced from $106,915 to $80,915, but Miers has yet to return the $26,000 difference to the state, said the story by Jack Douglas Jr. and Stephen Henderson.

"Nothing indicates that Miers sought out the judge or engineered the appointments to the panel, but there's also no indication that she reported the potential conflicts of interest in the case or tried to avoid them," the story said.

It quoted an unidentified White House spokesperson as saying that Miers considers the case a "straightforward condemnation matter" and did not know the details of her law firm's donations to Evans.

Yet another problem with the Miers nomination. Many nominations for various governmental positions have been nixed by such ethical lapses. How will the White House respond? Most likely bury its collective "head" in the sand. This White House is, in fact, one of the most stubborn we have had in a long time (which, of course, on many issues has been a very good thing)
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