Political Hay

Let’s See the Memos

And let the chips fall in the Senate Judiciary Committee's "Memogate."

By 2.24.04

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WASHINGTON -- A hot topic of recent political news is the so-called "Memogate." If you have followed such things then you know that some memos from the files of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee made their way into the hands of the media. Thereafter, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, expressed outrage that such a thing would happen on his watch. And somewhat later, Manny Miranda, who worked for Hatch and more recently has handled judicial nominations for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, resigned -- but not before he wrote a tough letter to the Senate Ethics Committee suggesting that the memos which have not yet been seen indicate possibly unlawful activities on the part of Senators.

A number of conservative groups have also asked that the Justice Department investigate the matter. And Miranda, in an interview with CNS News, has charged that the "profit motive" is driving the Judiciary Committee battles where key Bush Administration appointments have been filibustered by liberal Democrats.

"What would be truly shocking to the American people is the profit motive that is involved," Miranda said. "It isn't just about 'abortion rights,' the battle is about abortion profits. The axis of profits that undergirds the fight in the Judiciary Committee is the axis between trial lawyers -- who want particular types of judges who rule in particular ways on their cases -- and not the 'abortion rights' lobby but the abortion clinics lobby. The 'abortion rights' lobby is just a front for something worse which is the abortion clinics' lobby, represented by the National Abortion Federation," Miranda said.

He told CNS News that on average abortion clinics make $1,000 for every abortion they perform "That's where the money is. That's what is really happening here," Miranda said. He went on to say that "the abortion clinics' lobby is an industry as large as any industry that lobbies in Washington and, when combined with the single-mindedness of trial lawyers in trying to obtain a particular kind of judge, the enormity of the money that is behind the Democratic push is astounding and shocking...When you combine it then with the interests of the labor movement then you start seeing that the effort to control the judiciary is really an enormous and well orchestrated profit-making business," Miranda said.

Okay. Miranda has also said that among the memos not yet made public is an indication of potential criminal activity.

I have resisted getting into the question of whether or not Miranda has been guilty of unethical or, according to the Democrats, even possibly criminal, activity. I am not in command of the facts, although Miranda has always been honorable in his dealings with my organization and me.

Whether or not he should have continued to work in the United States Senate is really up to him and Senator Frist. I would not want Senator Frist to tell me whom I should have working at the Free Congress Foundation and I do not want to tell him whom he should have in his office.

But the charges Miranda makes are serious. Why aren't the Republicans making a first class issue out of this? It makes no sense! Indeed, in a meeting with representatives of a number of different outside groups, Members of the Senate leadership and at least one other Member of the Judiciary Committee told them they should back off. One of them is quoted as saying, "We don't want our memos read. We need to respect the privacy of the Democrats."

Now I am a strong advocate of privacy. But I have never advocated privacy to cover up criminal activity. The Senate obviously won't investigate itself. But the Justice Department must look into these charges of possible criminal activity.

What exactly is Miranda saying when he charges that the profit motive is involved in the Judiciary Committee battles? Are Senators on the take here? And if they are, what is it that Republicans have in their memos that they don't want seen? Sergeant at Arms Pickle has seen all of the memos. What does he know? Why should he not have to produce for the Justice Department any memos he suspects are indicative of criminal activity?

Whether or not Miranda did anything wrong, he is one very able lawyer. If he says there is potential criminal activity in the unseen Democrat memos, then that is good enough for me. Card-carrying members of the conservative movement need to demand an investigation. Even if it offends our Senate Republican allies this must go forward. I don't want to believe that any Republican is affected by the profit motive but if some are, they are. Let's find out what is in those memos and let the chips fall where they may.

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About the Author

Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.