Patrick J. Rogers

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

Patrick J. Rogers is the New Mexico attorney who represents and advises the Republican Party of New Mexico on its voter suppression efforts. I have documented from the public record Mr. Rogers’ conduct that violates the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct. Unfortunately, the state bar system requires that a formal complaint be filed to begin a formal investigation, but you don’t need to be a resident of the state or even involved in the matter to file a grievance. Anyone can file one, but a grievance can’t be filed online, so I’ve simplified the process as much as possible. If you agree, you can easily file a grievance against Mr. Rogers with the State Bar of New Mexico in three simple steps:

  1. Print, complete and sign the official Form for Complaint against a Lawyer in New Mexico;
  2. Print and attach this page to the Complaint Form as the factual basis for the claim; and
  3. Mail the complaint to the address noted on the Complaint Form.

Personal Information:

  • Name: Patrick J. Rogers, Shareholder, Modrall Sperling
  • PO Box 2168, Albuquerque, NM 87103-2168
  • Telephone: (505) 848-1800
  • Fax: (505) 848-1891

Grievance Information: New Mexico

Introduction

Along with the privilege to practice law, each member of the State Bar of New Mexico, including Patrick J. Rogers, must also comply with the special duties and responsibilities that arise from that privilege. As described in the Preamble to the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct:

A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

* * *

A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.

* * *

The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves. (Emphasis supplied.)

On October 17, 2008, Melanie Dabovich of the Associated Press reported that the “Republican Party of New Mexico alleges 28 people voted fraudulently in one Albuquerque state House district in the June Democratic primary.” After releasing the registration cards for “10 of the suspect voters[,]” Mr. Rogers, “an attorney who advises the state GOP, says the party plans to turn the suspect registration cards over to [state Attorney General Gary] King’s and [District Attorney Kari] Brandenburg’s offices.” ACORN investigated these claims and, as a result, “confirmed with the Bernalillo County Clerk that the voters in question were all legitimate” and that the voters identified by Mr. Rogers and his client were not engaged in the criminal conduct of ‘voter fraud’ but were, to the contrary, victims of false allegations of voting fraud.

Although his client, the Republican Party of New Mexico, officially distanced itself from making further allegations of voter fraud, Mr. Rogers continued to press the matter. Under the guise of conducting additional investigation of the baseless voter fraud allegations, Mr. Rogers retained a private investigator to conduct further ‘review’ of the voter fraud charges and supervised this investigator’s review of the voters he and his client had previously identified, even though each voter had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Considering this conduct and the circumstances surrounding his conduct, as detailed more specifically below, Patrick J. Rogers has violated the following New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct:

16-102. Scope of representation.
16-116. Declining or terminating representation.
16-401. Truthfulness in statements to others.
16-403. Dealing with unrepresented person.
16-404. Respect for rights of third persons.
16-503. Responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistants.
16-802. Judicial and legal officials.
16-804. Misconduct.

Allegation: Patrick J. Rogers engaged in conduct designed to intimidate and harass New Mexican voters by retaining and supervising a private investigator to ‘investigate’ baseless allegations of voter fraud in violation of federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation.

On October 17, 2008, Melanie Dabovich of the Associated Press reported the activities of Patrick J. Rogers and his client, the Republican Party of New Mexico:

ALBUQUERQUE — The Republican Party of New Mexico alleges 28 people voted fraudulently in one Albuquerque state House district in the June Democratic primary.

Party representatives said at a news conference Thursday they found the suspect voters in a review of 92 newly registered voters in House District 13.

“We really have a bombshell — evidence of voter fraud in the 2008 primary in Albuquerque,” said State Rep. Justine Fox-Young, an Albuquerque Republican. “We are presenting undeniable proof that there was voter fraud in the June election.”

* * *

The Republicans released voter registration cards for 10 of the suspect voters, saying they showed missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates.

In some cases, more than one voter was registered using the same Social Security number. In others, people who the Republicans said had no Social Security number on public record were registered.

* * *

Pat Rogers, an attorney who advises the state GOP, says the party plans to turn the suspect registration cards over to King’s and Brandenburg’s offices.

In response, Project Vote properly characterized these allegations as spurious:

ACORN and Project Vote launched back in a news conference call on October 10. “This is the third election cycle in a row where we’ve seen partisan interests take the same issue—which is canvassers trying to defraud ACORN by not doing their work and instead fabricating applications—and trying to exaggerate that and turn it into an argument that there is ‘widespread fraudulent voting’ going on,” said Project Vote executive director Michael Slater. “These allegations have been debunked now in several election cycles, and we’ll find by the end of this election cycle they’ll be debunked as well.”

The next day, October 18, 2008, the Associated Press again reported these baseless allegations:

ALBUQUERQUE —The community activist group ACORN fired back Saturday at New Mexico Republicans and their claims of voter fraud in June’s Democratic primary.

ACORN organizers said that since the vote-fraud charges were leveled by GOP leaders on Thursday, they have contacted four or five of the 28 allegedly “suspect” Albuquerque voters.

They said those voters confirmed that the allegations, including problems on voter registration forms like inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates, were simply wrong.

But State Republican Party representatives said only two voters out of 16 named in their investigation have come forward to deny the charges, and they stand by their assertion that voter fraud remains a problem in New Mexico. “The bottom line is that two out of 16 is not a good batting average,” said Pat Rogers, an attorney who advises the GOP.

* * *

Rogers said a private investigator hired by the state Republican Party found [Brittany] Rivera and others like her have Social Security numbers on their voter registration forms that are being used by other people. They may be legitimate voters and could be victims of identity theft.

* * *

However, the voters accused of the crime of voter fraud by Mr. Rogers and his client, the Republican Party of New Mexico, were, in fact, innocent of these charges. With the assistance of ACORN, these voters were able to prove their innocence of the charge of voter fraud. After “ACORN confirmed with the Bernalillo County Clerk that the voters in question were all legitimate,” the New Mexico Republican Party backed off their allegations of voter fraud. In spite of the fact that the voters identified by Mr. Rogers and his client were absolutely cleared of any impropriety by the Bernalillo County Clerk, Mr. Rogers and his private investigator continued to press the matter. Under the apparent guise of conducting additional investigation of the voter fraud allegations, and even though the named voters were cleared of any wrongdoing, Mr. Rogers continued to retain and supervise the services of Mr. Alfredo Romero to conduct additional ‘review’ of the voter fraud charges:

Among those who said she was blindsided and angered by the Republicans’ allegations was 18-year-old Brittany Rivera. At a news conference, she said she was at first scared to learn she’d been labeled as a “suspect” voter and her name and personal information had been forwarded to law enforcement. “You guys are trying to scare us new voters,” Rivera said of the GOP. “I think it’s wrong.”

According to Rivera and her mother, she accurately filled in and mailed her registration form on time after her mother picked up the paperwork for her at the nursing home where she works.

She said being targeted as a bogus voter is “crazy,” and she is now “more determined” to vote in the future. She said she planned to vote Saturday, when early voting began in New Mexico.

Group slams GOP ‘hacks’ over voting charges, Associated Press, October 18, 2008.

Several days later, on October 23, 2008, Gwyneth Doland reported in the New Mexico Independent that Mr. Rogers suddenly refused to either confirm or deny that he had hired an investigator in this matter:

ALBUQUERQUE – Republican Party attorney Pat Rogers refused to say Thursday if a private detective who visited the addresses of two of the 10 Albuquerque voters cited at a news conference last week about voter fraud was working for the GOP.

* * *

When asked by the New Mexico Independent if the private investigator worked for Rogers’ law firm, Rogers said, “I have no interest in responding to ACORN’s accusation.”

Reminded that the accusations came from the voters themselves, Rogers said, “You need not to accept what ACORN says.”

When asked the question again, Rogers said, ”I am not responding to any questions. I am not being quoted. This is off the record.”

However, the New Mexico Independent’s Gwyneth Doland confirmed that Mr. Rogers’ investigator had indeed continued to visit voters, including [name redacted] and Emily Garcia:

Guadalupe Bojorquez said a man who identified himself as a private investigator by the name of Al Romero visited the home of her 67-year-old mother on Wednesday.

“She calls me and she’s panicked because there is this man outside and he’s telling her he’s an investigator and he wants to come in to the house,” Bojorquez told NMI. She said her mother then put the man on the phone.

“I asked him, but he wouldn’t tell me who he worked for. He just said he wanted to verify that she was a legitimate voter and he wanted to see her documents. I told him ‘No,’ and we argued for a little bit.

“He said ‘You have to realize we’re just trying to protect the people, we just want to make sure that she’s a legitimate voter and if she votes and she’s not supposed to, then it’s illegal.’

“He was pressuring me so much that I told him that she’s not going to do anything until she speaks to her attorney.”

Bojorquez said she asked the man several times whom he worked for. Eventually, she said, “He told me he worked for Pat Rogers.”

Rogers is the Republican attorney who also made claims of voter fraud in 2004 and 2006. He was cited in the federal Department of Justice report about the firing of U.S. attorneys as one of the New Mexico GOP activists who complained to the Department of Justice about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

By law, private investigators are licensed by the state Regulation and Licensing Department. According to the department’s Web site, there is an Alfredo Romero who has a current private investigator license. In addition, three men named Albert or Alberto Romero have current security guard licenses.

Jenais Griego told NMI that she too had been visited by a private investigator on Wednesday. Her grandmother, Emily Garcia, was one of the people whom Republicans described last week as an ineligible voter.

“I asked him if he had a badge and he pulled out a white and blue laminate card with his name on it,” Griego. “It wasn’t even a badge, but it said ‘Al Romero, private investigator.’ He came in and he started asking me about my grandmother and I was trying to tell him that she didn’t live here. He’s like ‘OK, so let me just write some stuff down.’”

Griego said that Romero asked her questions about her grandmother’s voter registration card; her grandmother lives in a trailer down the street, but receives her mail at the house, she said.

“It freaked me out when he got upset, when I did tell him that, regardless of what happens, my grandmother is voting and it’s OK for her to vote.”

“He tried to tell me to tell her to be careful when she’s voting. He was trying to tell me stuff to scare her from voting.”

Bojorquez also said her mother felt wary about the visit.

“My mom is confused because she doesn’t understand why she’s being put through this because she voted. She doesn’t trust anybody anymore,” Bojorquez said, requesting that her mother’s name not be published again.

These visits by Mr. Rogers’ investigator were also confirmed by Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker:

Minority voters in New Mexico report to TPMMuckraker that a private investigator working with Republican party lawyer Pat Rogers has appeared in person at the homes of their family members, intimidating and confusing them about their right to vote in the general election.

* * *

The visits to minority voters by the P.I. appear to be connected to last week’s effort.

* * *

Guadalupe Bojorquez, who works in law enforcement in Albuquerque, told TPMmuckraker today that her mother, [name redacted], was one of the ten voters whose names were released by the GOP. After this happened, said Bojorquez, her mother had been contacted by the voter registration group ACORN. Bojorquez, with ACORN’s help, confirmed with the county clerk that her mother, who does not speak English, is indeed eligible to vote, and had been when she voted in June.

Nonetheless, Bojorquez said that her mother yesterday received a visit from a man who asked for her personal information, including an ID, in reference to her eligibility to vote. Bojorquez told TPMmuckraker that according to her mother, at one point the man asked what she would do if immigration authorities contacted her.

After Bojorquez’s mother, frightened, refused to let him in the door, the man waited outside her house. Eventually, Bojorquez’s brother arrived at the house, emboldening Bojorquez’s mother to go outside, call Bojorquez, and put her on the phone with the man.

Bojorquez said the man told her he wanted to make sure her mother knew that she shouldn’t be voting, and continued to ask for her mother’s personal information. When Bojorquez said that no information would be handed over unless the man revealed who he was employed by, he said he was a private investigator hired by Pat Rogers. He told Bojorquez his name was Al Romero, and left a number at which Bojorquez could contact him.

Bojorquez added that in fact, her mother has already voted in the general election, by absentee ballot — which she is eligible for because she has trouble walking — so Romero’s efforts on that front were in vain.

Another Albuquerque woman had a similar experience.

Jenais Griego told TPMmuckraker that yesterday, as she arrived home with her kids, a man in a beige Chevy Silverado pulled up, removed a notebook from his pocket, and said he was looking for Emily Garcia. Garcia is Griego’s grandmother — Griego said Garcia, who works as a home care-giver, lists Griego’s address for her mail — and, like [name redacted], was one of the voters named by the GOP last week as having voted fraudulently in June.

Griego said she allowed the man in, and when she asked him for identification, he pulled out a card that gave his name as Al Romero. She said the man had a redacted copy of Garcia’s voter registration form, and asked whether Garcia intended to vote. He said if she intended to do so, she needed to make sure she was properly registered.

As with Bojorquez and [name redacted], Griego said that Garcia had already confirmed after the GOP press conference that she was indeed a valid voter. An ACORN worker had come to her house to explain that the GOP had questioned her registration, and, along with Griego, they had contacted the county clerk to ensure that she could legitimately vote, and had done so in June.

So when Romero asked Griego whether Garcia intended to vote, Griego replied that she did. At that point, said Griego, Romero became “angry” and “upset,” and left abruptly.

Rogers did not return several calls from TPMmuckraker seeking comment. But last week he said that the state party had hired a private investigator in connection with vote fraud*. And asked yesterday by the New Mexico Independent about the confrontations with voters, he replied: “I have no interest in responding to ACORN’s accusation.”

Reached by TPMmuckraker at the phone number he provided to Bojorquez, Romero said he didn’t have time to talk about the matter. He did not respond to repeated follow-up calls.

*This sentence has been corrected from an earlier version.

In response, Project Vote has requested that New Mexico U.S. Attorney Gregory Fouratt begin investigating these allegations of voter intimidation and vote suppression, including the intimidation of Ms. Rivera, Ms. [name redacted], Ms. Garcia and Mr. “Francisco Martinez, 19, who registered to vote for the first time when volunteers came to his high school in May. Mr. Martinez said Monday that he felt like he was being bullied and intimidated out of his rights as an American. ‘This is my first time voting, and it’s important to me to be part of history,’ Mr. Martinez said.” In his October 23, 2008, letter to U.S. Attorney Fouratt requesting the investigation, Project Vote Election Counsel Donald Wine II wrote:

We here at Project Vote, on behalf of several voters of the State of New Mexico write to request an investigation into increased efforts to intimidate voters and suppress minority voters by representatives of the New Mexico Republican Party.

Members of the New Mexico Republican Party called a press conference last week where they named 10 Albuquerque residents as frauds who they allege voted illegally in the New Mexico primaries. ACORN made contact with 8 of the 10 voters on that list distributed by the New Mexico Republican Party. All of the voters identify as Democratic, all are minorities (9 of the 10 are Latino), and most of them are 18 or 19 years old. One of the voters is a new citizen who was naturalized in 2007 and was voting for the first time. ACORN found that all of the voters they contacted are legitimate voters that were eligible to vote and had no problems with their registrations.

Now that the Republicans have found that the people they alleged were frauds were in fact legitimate voters, they have begun to intimidate these voters. Already, 2 of the 10 voters have been visited by a private investigator in an effort to keep these voters silent. Also, the fact that all 10 of the voters that were named on this list were minority voters, 9 of which are Latino, as well as mostly younger voters, indicates a concerted effort to suppress the vote of a particular class of voters.

This form of intimidation and suppression is in direct violation of Section 12 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as Section 2. We feel that the right of all Americans to vote is of the utmost importance, and if there is credible evidence of voter intimidation and suppression of a particular class of voters, it should be addressed and promptly prosecuted. We request that you conduct an immediate investigation into the attempts by the Republican Party of New Mexico to intimidate minority, first-time voters into not exercising their right to vote. To the extent that your investigation uncovers that any federal laws have also been violated, we ask that your office refer the matter to the proper federal authorities.

In addition to Mr. Wine’s allegations that Mr. Rogers’ and his investigator’s conduct violated federal law, Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker also reports that Mr. Rogers’ and Mr. Romero’s conduct likely violates federal law:

Four separate experts on voting rights have confirmed to TPMmuckraker that the behavior of a private investigator apparently hired by a New Mexico Republican party lawyer, that we reported this morning, potentially violates federal voting laws.

Gerry Hebert, a former acting head of the voting rights section of the Department of Justice, told TPMmuckraker that the P.I.’s actions appear to violate the criminal section of the federal Voting Rights Act, which makes it a crime to willfully injure, intimidate, or interfere with a person attempting to vote. Hebert added that a separate statute makes it a crime to conspire to intimidate someone in exercising their right to vote — a provision that could apply to GOP lawyer Pat Rogers or others in the state party who may have been involved in the scheme.

“A matter like that ought to be reported to the DOJ immediately,” said Hebert, adding that he planned to do so.

Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights agreed, and added that the activities detailed in TPMmuckraker’s report could violate both criminal and civil voting rights statutes. Greenbaum pointed to a civil provision of the Voting Rights Act which says that it violates the law to intimidate, threaten or coerce someone from voting or not voting.

Greenbaum too said he planned to pass on to the Department of Justice the claims made in our report.

Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a noted expert on election law, also said that the behavior potentially violated the Voting Rights Act or other federal civil-rights statutes.

And Wendy Weiser, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, further confirmed that take.

An Albuquerque woman told TPMmuckraker yesterday that a man identifying himself as a private investigator hired by Rogers came to her mother’s house Wednesday asking her mother for personal information and warning her not to vote if she wasn’t properly registered. A second woman in the same city provided a similar report to TPMmuckraker. The voters’ names had been publicly released last week by Rogers and others affiliated with the state party, who claimed that 28 mostly Hispanic people had voted fraudulently in June. It was later determined that many of the people whose names had been released were valid voters.

In spite of the evidence to the contrary, Mr. Rogers may claim that he has fulfilled his special responsibility for the quality of justice and may deny that he engaged in improper conduct or harbored improper motives. However, any such claims or denials are not determinative of whether or not he violated the law and the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct by using the law’s procedures to harass or intimidate others. Instead, whether he “actually supposed the fact in question to be true” or not, i.e., whether Mr. Rogers actually believes any denial of improper conduct, “may be inferred from circumstances” in which the alleged misconduct occurred. See Terminology, New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct. Even if Mr. Rogers actually believed his actions were proper, that belief would only be reasonable if “the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.” However, because “a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would [have] ascertain[ed]” that Mr. Rogers’ conduct was improper, Mr. Rogers should have known he was acting unethically.

Specifically, the circumstances existing nationally quash any inference that Mr. Rogers may believe that his conduct was appropriate:

It’s worth noting, in response to the news that the FBI has launched an investigation into whether ACORN was involved in a nationwide voter-registration fraud scheme, that the launch of the probe comes at a time national Republicans at several different levels have sought to make an issue out of ACORN — in some cases calling for just such an investigation.

Last week, John McCain told a Florida crowd:

“There are serious allegations of voter fraud in the battleground states across America. They must be investigated.” The GOP standard-bearer has continued to sound the alarm over ACORN since then, and brought it up at last night’s debate.

GOP House leader John Boehner last week called in a statement for ACORN to be de-funded — it is currently eligible for federal housing funds — and charged that over the years, ACORN “has committed fraud on our system of elections, making American voters question the fairness and accuracy of the exercise of their most fundamental right under the Constitution.”

Last week the RNC held at least five separate conference calls with reporters to stoke fears of voter fraud connected to ACORN.

And numerous state- and local-level Republicans have also in the last few weeks called publicly for authorities to look into ACORN.

What’s Behind the Feds’ ACORN Probe?, Zachary Roth, TPMMuckraker, October 16, 2008.

Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding Mr. Rogers’ effort to suppress the vote in New Mexico in 2008 are nothing new. To the contrary, they are part of a multi-year, ongoing effort to challenge the voting rights of New Mexicans, as confirmed by Rep. John Conyers in his letter to United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey:

Mr. Rogers, however, appears repeatedly in the report on the U.S. Attorney firings, prepared by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General and Professional Responsibility, which documented his actions making flawed claims of voter fraud and bringing unwarranted pressure to bear on law enforcement officials, including Mr. Iglesias, in 2006.

On October 24, 2008, Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker reported further on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Rogers’ conduct:

… Rogers’ role in pressing [fired U.S. Attorney David] Iglesias to pursue voter fraud prosecutions was extensive. According to the OIG report on the firings, Rogers set up a lunch meeting with Iglesias, and met with an FBI agent — among many other activities — to push the issue.

Perhaps most damagingly, the report contains a September 2004 email sent to Iglesias and several staffers for New Mexico’s GOP congressional delegation, in which Rogers admitted that he was interested in the issue in large part for its potential to help the GOP:

I believe the [voter] ID issue should be used (now) at all levels – federal, state legislative races and Heather [Wilson]’s race … You are not going to find a better wedge issue … I’ve got to believe the [voter] ID issue would do Heather more good than another ad talking about how much federal taxpayer money she has put into the (state) education system and social security … This is the single best wedge issue, ever in NM. We will not have this opportunity again … Today, we expect to file a new Public Records lawsuit, by 3 Republican legislators, demanding the Bernalillo county clerk locate and produce (before Oct 15) ALL of the registrations signed by the ACORN employee.

But Rogers is no mere local player on the Republican voter fraud team. He was on the board of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), a fake think-tank which was little more than an effort by GOP operatives to offer an intellectual gloss to politically motivated claims of voter fraud — and which abruptly closed down operations in 2007.

ACVR was run by Mark “Thor” Hearne, who served as national election counsel to President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. Jim Dyke — who was the communications director of the Republican National Committee during the 2004 election, and went on to work for both the White House and for Vice President Cheney — was also involved.

Writing in Slate last year, election-law expert Rick Hasen described ACVR’s modus operandi:

Consisting of little more than a post-office box and some staffers who wrote reports and gave helpful quotes about the pervasive problems of voter fraud to the press, the group identified Democratic cities as hot spots for voter fraud, then pushed the line that “election integrity” required making it harder for people to vote. The group issued reports (PDF) on areas in the country of special concern, areas that coincidentally tended to be presidential battleground states. In many of these places, it now appears the White House was pressuring U.S. attorneys to bring more voter-fraud prosecutions.

Here’s Rogers, on behalf of ACVR, telling CNN back in 2004 about the need for “safeguards to make sure that citizens only are voting.”

And now this is the guy who’s involved in pushing voter fraud claims in connection with an investigation in which the FBI is already involved.

Clearly, the background and circumstances in this matter, however, do not permit the inference that Mr. Rogers believed his conduct was appropriate. Accordingly, Mr. Rogers has engaged in conduct that violates the following New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct:

16-102. Scope of representation.

* * *

D. Course of conduct. A lawyer shall not engage, or counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent or which misleads the court, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.

* * *

16-116. Declining or terminating representation.

A. Mandatory disqualification. Except as stated in Paragraph C, a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if:

(1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

* * *

16-401. Truthfulness in statements to others.

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

A. make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

B. fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 16-106.

16-403. Dealing with unrepresented person.

In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.

16-404. Respect for rights of third persons.

In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.

16-503. Responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistants.

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

A. a partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;

B. a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

C. a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:

(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved ; or

* * *

16-804. Misconduct.

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

A. violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

B. commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

C. engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

D. engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

* * *

H. engage in any conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.

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Full Text of the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct violated by Mr. Rogers

Employment of Kyle D. Sampson reflects poorly on Hunton & Williams, LLP, No.3

Updated March 10, 2009 to reflect Mr. Sampson’s leave of absence from Hunton & Williams.

Cross-posted at the Oxdown Gazette, Firedoglake‘s new diary blog.

My third e-mail to Ms. Field:

Andrea Bear Field
DC Office Managing Partner
Hunton & Williams

cc: Kyle D. Sampson , Partner
Hunton & Williams

Dear Ms. Field,

On behalf of The Grievance Project, I would appreciate Hunton & Williams‘s response to the following items:

1. The most recent United States Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General report, An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, which describes* additional allegations of unethical conduct by Hunton & Williams partner Kyle D. Sampson.

Professor Marty Lederman succinctly summarizes this matter at Balkinization:

The basic thrust of the Report, as I understand it, is that Kyle Sampson was acting in cahoots with the White House Counsel’s Office to fire disfavored U.S. Attorneys — at least some for possibly impermissible reasons — and that AG Gonzales and others at DOJ therefore left the entire project up to Sampson, stepping in merely to rubberstamp whatever decisions he reached in accord with the Counsel’s Office.

Is this type of conduct typical at Hunton & Williams? If not, why does Hunton & Williams continue to condone and encourage this type of conduct through its partnership with Mr. Sampson?

2. The appointment of Nora Dannehy as Special Prosecutor to review this matter, including your partner’s apparently central involvement in this scandal.

Update: The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Slater has published a profile of Ms. Dannehy. (h/t emptywheel)

3. Like the previous report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General, this most recent report again confirms my opinion that Mr. Sampson committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct of both Utah and D.C that raise a substantial question as to his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness to practice law. Has Hunton & Williams reviewed whether Mr. Sampson’s conduct violated the Utah and D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct? If so, what was the conclusion of that review? If not, why not?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

E.M./The Grievance Project

*Section C of the DOJ OPR/OIG report:

As discussed above, Sampson was the person most responsible for creating the removal plan, selecting the U.S. Attorneys to be removed, and implementing the plan. Yet, after the controversy over the removals erupted, Sampson attempted to downplay his role, describing himself as the “aggregator” and denying responsibility for placing several of the U.S. Attorneys on the list.

We concluded that from start to finish Sampson mishandled the removal process. And, as discussed above, he inappropriately advocated bypassing the Senate confirmation process for replacing U.S. Attorneys through a strategy of “gum[ming] this to death” and “run[ning] out the clock” while appearing to act in good faith.

We were also troubled by Sampson’s claims that he did not recall the reasons for many of the removals or who had recommended that certain U.S. Attorneys be removed. For example, while Sampson said he did not place Iglesias on the list at the request of the White House, his recollection on this issue was varying and vague. We question why Sampson could not recall the precise reason why he placed Iglesias on the removal list, given the relatively short passage of time since the incident, and the fact that Iglesias’s name alone was added, for the first time, to the November 2006 list. Moreover, other misleading after-the-fact explanations for why Iglesias was placed on the list caused us to further doubt the candor of Sampson’s explanations. In the end, we question whether Sampson provided us the full story about Iglesias’s placement on the list, as well as the reasons for other U.S. Attorney removals.

As discussed in the sections that follow, we also concluded that Sampson made various misleading statements about the U.S. Attorney removals to the White House, Congress, and other Department officials.

1. Misleading Statements to the White House

Sampson’s misleading statements about the U.S. Attorney removals began as the selection process was unfolding. He misrepresented to the White House how the selections occurred. In an e-mail to Harriet Miers in January 2006 forwarding a list of names to the White House, Sampson wrote, “I list
these folks based on my review” of the EARS evaluations, and “my interviews with officials in the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and the Criminal Division.” Sampson thus created the general impression that the EARS evaluations and his “interviews” of senior Department officials, including officials in the Criminal Division, formed the basis of his identification of specific U.S. Attorneys for removal.

However, Sampson admitted to us that he did not remember speaking to anyone in the Criminal Division about the performance of U.S. Attorneys, except “only in the most general terms.” He also acknowledged that he never reviewed any EARS evaluations. He told us that it would have been better if he had stated in the e-mail to Miers that it was based on his understanding of somebody else’s understanding of the reviews of the offices. [Footnote] 202[.] We believe that Sampson’s misleading statements to Miers gave the impression that the Department had engaged in a far more systematic and structured evaluation process to determine which U.S. Attorneys should be removed.

2. Misleading Statements to Congress

Sampson similarly misled congressional staff in his January 12, 2007, briefing that the removals were based on EARS evaluations. At this meeting, Sampson and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Richard Hertling briefed staff for Senators Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein about the removals. Sampson told the Senators’ staffs that the Department had been engaged in a process to identify underperforming U.S. Attorneys and that the process included a review of the EARS evaluations. The two staff members for the Senators told us that Sampson initially explained that the terminations were based on the EARS evaluations, but backtracked when Feinstein’s counsel pressed him for copies. According to both staff members, Sampson then explained that some of the removals were based on EARS evaluations, and some on other factors such as caseloads and responsiveness to Department policy initiatives.

According to Hertling, who said he knew little about the controversy at the time, Sampson attempted to impress upon the congressional staff that the removals were the result of a process the Department undertook to identify U.S. Attorneys who were the “weakest performers,” and that the process included a review of EARS evaluations. Hertling told us that one of the things that stuck in his mind was Sampson’s “specific reference” to EARS evaluations as a basis for identifying these particular U.S. Attorneys for termination.

However, Sampson claimed to us that he mentioned the EARS evaluations only in connection with Ryan’s removal. He said that he doubted he would have suggested that the other removals were based on the EARS evaluations because “that wouldn’t have been accurate.” Yet, based upon the recollection of the other witnesses at the briefing, including Hertling, we believe that Sampson misled the congressional staff that EARS evaluations played a more significant role in the Department’s decision-making process than they actually did.

Second, Sampson included misleading statements in the Department’s response to a February 8, 2007, letter from several Senators asking for information about the circumstances of Cummins’s resignation and Griffin’s appointment. Sampson, who drafted the response and circulated it in the Department and the White House for comment, had the final sign-off on the language in the response.

The response, which was sent on February 23, 2007, contained three misleading statements. The first was the statement that “it was well-known, as early as December 2004, that Mr. Cummins intended to leave . . . .” As we noted in Chapter Five, we found evidence that in drafting the response Sampson discovered a small news item in a free weekly Arkansas tabloid reporting that Cummins might begin exploring career options before the expiration of President Bush’s second term. However, Cummins told us he did not intend to resign at that time and was not looking for other employment. We also found no evidence that anyone at the Department was aware of the article until February 2007.

The second misleading statement in the Department’s response was that “the decision to have Mr. Griffin replace Mr. Cummins was first contemplated in spring or summer of 2006 [and] the final decision to appoint Mr. Griffin . . . was made on or about December 15 . . .” This statement is directly contradicted by the January 9, 2006, e-mail Sampson sent to Miers in which Griffin is listed as a replacement for Cummins. The second part of the statement, that the final decision to appoint Griffin was made around December 15, is also misleading. As noted in Chapter Five, Sampson informed Goodling on August 18, 2006, that the Attorney General would appoint Griffin Interim U.S. Attorney following Griffin’s return to the Department.

The third misleading statement in the Department’s response was that “The Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin.” This statement is contradicted by Sampson’s e-mail on December 19, 2006, to Associate White House Counsel Christopher Oprison in which Sampson wrote, “I’m not 100 percent sure that Tim was the guy on which to test drive this authority, but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” While Sampson later explained this e-mail by stating that he “assumed” but did not know that Rove was involved in the decision to appoint Griffin, we found this explanation unpersuasive and belied by the evidence.

3. Misleading Department Officials

Sampson also misled Department officials and allowed them to mislead others about several aspects of the U.S. Attorney removals.

First, in mid-December 2006 after media reports began questioning the circumstances of Griffin’s appointment, Sampson drafted talking points for the Department’s Office of Public Affairs to use to respond to media inquiries. In these talking points, Sampson wrote that “Griffin was appointed Interim U.S. Attorney because of the timing of Cummins’s resignation.”

In fact, as Sampson knew, Cummins had been removed so that Griffin could take his place. The Department’s talking points left the misleading impression that Griffin was appointed as Interim U.S. Attorney because of the unexpected timing of Cummins’s resignation, when in fact Cummins was told to resign to create a position for Griffin.

Second and more important, Sampson’s failure to disclose what he knew about the White House’s involvement in the removals caused McNulty and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella to provide inaccurate testimony to Congress. Both McNulty and Moschella testified that based on what they knew at the time, the White House was not involved in the removals until October 2006 and at that point became involved only to sign off on the process.

Sampson was present at staff preparation sessions before both McNulty’s and Moschella’s congressional testimony where the group discussed what they should say in their testimony. Several other participants told us that the question about the White House’s involvement was raised during at least one of McNulty’s preparation sessions, and McNulty indicated that he would tell Congress that the White House was involved to sign off on the process because U.S. Attorneys are Presidential appointments. This was a misleading statement about the extent and timing of the White House’s role, which Sampson knew. However, Sampson did not correct McNulty’s mistaken belief or inform him of the full extent of the White House’s involvement.

Consequently, in a closed briefing session on February 14, 2007, McNulty told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the U.S. Attorney removal process began within the Department in September or October of 2006, and that the Department sent a list to the White House Counsel’s office in October and asked if they objected to the names. Similarly, Moschella testified incorrectly before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on March 6, 2007, based on what he had learned during the preparation sessions and from McNulty’s testimony, that the process to remove the U.S. Attorneys began in early October 2006 and that the White House eventually became involved in the removals, but only to sign off on the proposal because the U.S. Attorneys were Presidential appointees.

When we interviewed Sampson, he rationalized his not correcting the misimpression left at the preparation sessions by arguing that there were two separate phases of the process – the earlier “thinking” phase and the later “action” phase, and he said he was focused on the later action phase during the preparation sessions. We found Sampson’s testimony on this point not credible. Sampson sent three separate lists of U.S. Attorneys for removal to the White House for consideration before the fall of 2006. We believe that Sampson should have been more forthcoming at the preparation sessions about the White House’s involvement to ensure that McNulty and Moschella were aware of the facts and did not mislead Congress. Sampson’s failure to do so resulted in inaccurate and misleading testimony about a critical aspect of the controversy.

We concluded that Sampson engaged in misconduct by making misleading statements and failing to disclose important information to the White House, members of Congress, congressional staff, and Department officials concerning the reasons for the removals of the U.S. Attorneys and the extent of White House involvement in the removal process.

[Footnote] 202[:] However, even that would have been inaccurate because, as we noted in each of the U.S. Attorney chapters, with the exception of Ryan’s March 2006 EARS evaluation (which had not yet taken place), each of the EARS evaluations of the removed U.S. Attorneys was largely positive.

Report, pp. 346-351.

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 6

At No Comment, Scott Horton continues with his stellar reporting on the politicization of, and abuse of power in, the Department of Justice with this July 23, 2008 post of his Six Questions for Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, Author of In Justice. Mr. Iglesias. one of the United States Attorneys fired by DoJ on December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day – of 2007, explains, in a nutshell, what happened:

One cannot fully comprehend the recent Justice Department meltdown without understanding the belief in New Mexico, Missouri, and Washington State Republican circles, that the 2000 election and subsequent contests were rife with fraud. It set the stage for what followed during the scandal surrounding the forced resignations in 2006 of United States Attorneys John McKay of Seattle, Todd Graves of Kansas City, and me. We were all criticized by Republican operatives for not filing voter or election fraud cases in our respective districts. Each of us examined the evidence and did not find any provable cases, so no indictments were filed. I remember hearing Republican activists allege that the Democrats stole the election in New Mexico during the 2000 presidential election. I heard that illegal immigrants were voting in large numbers. If true this would be criminal, but prosecutors may not base their cases on rumor and innuendo but on admissible evidence they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. * * *

Voter fraud became the bogeyman of New Mexico politics. And what person was best equipped to prevent this alleged problem from happening again? The United States Attorney. Hence in the summer of 2002 the Executive Office of United States Attorney in Washington emailed all 93 U.S. Attorneys asking us to work with state and local election officials to prevent election fraud. * * * That changed dramatically in 2004, when the local media covered numerous instances of apparent voter fraud. * * *

In response, I set up one of only two election fraud task forces in the country. * * *

I also set up a hotline for citizens to call into the local FBI office. I believed that we would find provable cases of fraud that I could prosecute, and I was determined to find them. * * * After almost two years of investigation, we were unable to come up with a single prosecutable case. I conferred with main Justice and with the local FBI office. It was ultimately my call, and I followed the professional staff in finding that there wasn’t enough evidence to support a prosecution. Main Justice and the FBI did not disagree with my assessment.

But local Republican leaders disagreed. They could not believe that the investigation failed to produce a prosecution. During the 2004-06 time period, Rumaldo Armijo and I received numerous phone calls and emails from former state G.O.P. counsel Patrick Rogers. He exhorted us to file cases. We could only tell him what we would tell any member of the public–that we would file provable cases and even then, we would not file a case just before an election if we felt it could affect the outcome of the election. This was policy of the Justice Department, per career attorney Craig Donsanto, who wrote the election fraud manual that all U.S. attorneys used. Significantly, Rogers never told Armijo or me that he was also an official of a group called the American Center for Voting Rights—a G.O.P. organization alleged to be engaged in voter suppression efforts. I did not find this important fact until after I left the Justice Department. I knew Rogers to be involved in the litigation over the voter I.D. law and knew him to be a fiercely partisan Republican. In 2006, I heard from a friend of mine who was active in the state party that the party was upset with me. At one point he implored me, “can’t you file something?” So I heard the rumbling of the party in the 2005-06 timeframe.

I was aware of the simmering discontent of the local Republicans. Just before the 2006 midterm election that discontent boiled over when I received a highly improper phone call from Congresswoman Heather Wilson in mid-October and another call from Senator Pete Domenici in late October. * * * Both Wilson and Domenici were talking about the same investigation. Wilson had used her opponent’s weak record in pursuing corruption cases as part of her attack strategy. I knew that if I told them I was close to indicting the case that would be used by Wilson in connection with her election campaign. I also knew they had no legitimate need to know when I would be filing the indictments. I was put on the list to be fired on November 7, 2006—Election Day. The timeline alone is damning and it was clear to me that I was placed on the list because I would not rush an indictment of a high-profile Democrat in a way that would benefit Wilson in her campaign. * * *

As Mr. Horton notes in his introduction,

His meteoric career is not simply the stuff of movies–after all, some of David Iglesias’s experiences as a Navy JAG at Guantánamo Bay furnished the material for Aaron Sorkin’s play “A Few Good Men,” later converted into a Hollywood blockbuster. (Italics in original.)

Even a stellar career in the Navy that is ‘the stuff of movies’ followed by six (6) years of public service as a United States Attorney was not sufficient to insulate Mr. Iglesias from the Bush administration. And throughout this whole sordid affair, Mr. Iglesias has maintained his professionalism, demonstrated his strength of character and, as a result, provides a model of conduct to which all attorneys should strive to emulate.

Read the rest of the interview here .

Buy David Iglesias’ book In Justice: Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration.

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Alberto Gonzales: Not just unethical, but criminal?

As reported by Jason Leopold at the Online Journal on February 29, 2008, (h/t nonnie9999), Alberto Gonzales not only engaged in unethical conduct, but likely also engaged in conduct that was criminal:

John McKay, the former US attorney for the Western District of Washington who was also fired in late 2006 for reasons that appear to have been motivated by partisan politics, wrote in a lengthy article in the January edition of the Seattle University Law Review [incorrect link in original document] that Iglesias’s firing stands out among the other eight federal prosecutors because it demonstrates “the very real prospect of improper interference with an ongoing criminal investigation involving public corruption and the seeking of political advantage.”

“Violations of the obstruction of justice statute may have occurred and should be investigated,” McKay wrote. “Even as the role of the White House remains shrouded in its claims of executive privilege, 23 certain White House employees appear to have been heavily involved in the dismissal of U.S. Attorney Iglesias. In several e-mails it appears that these officials were reacting directly to the complaints of Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and the ongoing investigation into public corruption in New Mexico. For example, Deputy White House Counsel Bill Kelley smugly e-mailed Gonzales’ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson to report that Domenici’s office was ‘happy as a clam’ on learning of Iglesias’s ouster. Senior Counselor to the President Karl Rove bragged about Iglesias’s dismissal by proclaiming ‘he’s gone’ to the New Mexico Republican Party Chairman, who had previously complained to Rove about Iglesias.”

* * *

This chain of events troubles McKay who wrote in his law review article that former Attorney General Gonzales ultimately approved Iglesias’s termination with the full knowledge that it was based on partisan politics.

Gonzales admitted “he took multiple phone calls from Domenici concerning [Iglesias], urging that he be replaced, and has admitted that [President Bush] spoke with him about the ‘problems’ with Iglesias,” McKay wrote.
”Gonzales has even admitted that one of the reasons that Iglesias was fired was because Senator Domenici had “lost confidence” in Iglesias. “While these allegations are troubling under any analysis, a thorough and independent investigation is necessary to determine whether criminal laws have been violated,” McKay added. “Among the considerations facing the inspector general is whether the actions of former Attorney General Gonzales constituted obstruction of justice by removing Iglesias.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for justice. No attorney employed by the Michael Mukasey-led Department of Justice will initiate an investigation of and pursue a criminal prosecution against Alberto Gonzales. As Leopold reports, they’re too busy fighting voter fraud:

Recently, the OPR contacted Iglesias’s former executive assistant, Rumaldo Armijo, to interview him about whether he was pressured by Pat Rogers, a Republican attorney in Albuquerque, and Mickey Barnett, a Republican lobbyist, to bring charges of voter fraud against Democrats in the state, Iglesias confirmed when asked about the matter during an interview.

Rogers was affiliated with the American Center for Voting Rights, a now defunct non-profit organization that sought to defend voter rights and increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections. However, it has since emerged that the organization played a major role in suppressing the votes of people who intended to cast ballots for Democrats in various states. Rogers is also the former chief counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party, and was tapped by Domenici to replace Iglesias as US Attorney for New Mexico.

Rogers did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Armijo was also unavailable for comment. During his tenure in the US attorney’s office he was in charge of issues related to voter fraud in New Mexico. Iglesias said in an interview that he launched an in-depth investigation into claims of voter fraud in New Mexico and found the allegations to be “non-provable in court.” He said he is certain that his firing was due, in part, to the fact that he would not file criminal charges of voter fraud in New Mexico. Iglesias added that, based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and “Karl Rove’s obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country,” he now believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to Republicans.

Armijo spoke to the Senate Ethics Committee last year about numerous telephone calls and emails dating back to 2005 he received from Rogers related to voter fraud, and Iglesias’s alleged failure to investigate the matter while Iglesias was US attorney, Iglesias confirmed.

Last May, House Democrats released a transcript of an interview congressional investigators had with one of Gonzales’s senior Justice Department staffers, Matthew Friedrich, in which Friedrich recounted that over breakfast in November 2006, Rogers and Barnett told him they were frustrated about Iglesias’s refusal to pursue cases of voter fraud and that they had spoken to Karl Rove and Domenici about having Iglesias fired.

“I remember them repeating basically what they had said before in terms of unhappiness with Dave Iglesias and the fact that this case hadn’t gone anyplace,” Friedrich said, according to a copy of the interview transcript. “It was clear to me that they did not want him to be the US attorney. And they mentioned that they had essentially . . . they were sort of working towards that.”

According to media reports, Rogers said he does not recall speaking to Rove about Iglesias.

Additionally, Barnett and Rogers met with Monica Goodling, the Justice Department’s White House liaison, in June 2006 to complain that Iglesias was ignoring voter fraud. Goodling’s meeting with Rogers and Barnett took place at the urging of a colleague. Rogers also drafted a lengthy letter that he sent to Domenici detailing what he claimed were Iglesias’s prosecutorial failures, Iglesias said he had been told.

Allen Weh, the New Mexico Republican Party chairman, told McClatchy Newspapers in March that he urged Rove to use his influence to have Iglesias fired because Weh was unhappy with Iglesias’s alleged refusal to bring criminal charges against Democrats in a voter fraud investigation.

At best, nothing will happen until Attorney General John Edwards(?) can order an investigation on January 21, 2009. But the fact that justice will not be served by the Department of Justice does not mean that justice must be denied:

ANY person residing in ANY state can file a grievance against Alberto Gonzales.

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Kyle D. Sampson

Updated July 28, 2008, to include the recent report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General, by the United States Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General, which concluded that Kyle D. Sampson engaged in conduct during the course of his employment at the Department Justice that calls into question his fitness to practice law.

Personal Information:

  • Name: Sampson, Kyle D.
  • Bar: Utah
  • ID No: 8112
  • Status: Active

Grievance Information: Utah

Grievance Information: Washington, D.C.

Allegations:

Illegal Utilization of political considerations personally and in conjunction with Monica Goodling in Hiring and Firing Personnel at the Department of Justice in violation of the Hatch Act

As originally reported by Dan Eggen in the Washington Post,

“The Justice Department considered political affiliation in screening applicants for immigration court judgeships for several years until hiring was frozen in December after objections from department lawyers, current and former officials said yesterday. “The disclosures mean that the Justice Department may have violated civil service laws, which prohibit political considerations in hiring, for as long as two years before the tenure of Monica M. Goodling, the former aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales who testified about the practice this week. “Goodling told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that she “crossed the line” in considering political affiliation for several categories of career applicants at Justice, including immigration judges.

* * *

“The department’s hiring practices have come under scrutiny in the furor over the firings last year of nine U.S. attorneys. A Justice Department investigation of the dismissals has been expanded to include whether Goodling and other Gonzales aides improperly took politics into account in hiring for nonpolitical jobs. “Goodling testified that Sampson told her that the department’s Office of Legal Counsel had concluded that immigration judges were not covered by civil service rules. The Justice Department said after her testimony that it had “located no record” of an OLC opinion that reached that conclusion.”

Officials Say Justice Dept. Based Hires on Politics Before Goodling Tenure, Dan Eggen, Washington Post, May 26, 2007

Additional Sources:

Letter regarding Investigation of Kyle Sampson, From U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, August 24, 2007

Document Shows Widening Probe Into DOJ Hiring , Paul Kane, Washington Post, August 30, 2007

This has now been confirmed by the United States Department of Justice Offices of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector Generals in their report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General:

We concluded that Sampson violated Department policy and federal law, and committed misconduct, by considering political or ideological affiliations when hiring IJs. Sampson knew that, historically, most IJ hiring was handled by career employees at EOIR. However, he moved that authority from EOIR and placed it in the OAG. Sampson told us that he had understood it was appropriate to consider “political criteria” in selecting IJs. He stated that his understanding was based on a conversation he had with Ohlson in April 2004 about the Attorney General’s direct appointment authority for IJs, combined with advice he claimed to have received from OLC that IJ hiring was not subject to civil service requirements.

However, as detailed above, Ohlson said he did not tell Sampson that direct appointments were exempt from federal civil service laws. Ohlson said he merely noted to Sampson that direct appointments had been used occasionally in the past to appoint IJs. Nor does the evidence support Sampson’s claim that OLC advised him that civil service laws did not apply to the career IJ positions. Neither OLC nor we could find any record of OLC ever providing such advice to Sampson, and the two officials he identified as possible sources of the advice – AAGs Goldsmith and Levin – had no recollection of advising Sampson that civil service laws did not apply to IJ hiring. To the contrary, the evidence showed that neither would have offered legal guidance on this point informally. While it is possible that Sampson mistakenly inferred on his own that civil service laws did not apply to direct appointments by the Attorney General, there is no evidence that he was ever so advised by OLC.

Moreover, as described in the document attached to his October 8, 2003, e-mail, Sampson sought to use the Attorney General’s direct appointment authority to appoint candidates as IJs who had been recommended by the White House and screened using political criteria
well before those conversations with OLC and Ohlson supposedly occurred. It is clear from Sampson’s October 8 e-mail that he contemplated using political considerations in IJ hiring at least 6 months before his conversation with Ohlson; at least 9 months before Levin (one
of the OLC Assistant Attorney Generals he cited as a possible source of OLC’s legal advice) became the head of OLC in July 2004; and before any conversation he had with Goldsmith (the other OLC Assistant Attorney General cited by Sampson), who did not begin serving in OLC until October 3, 2003, just 5 days before Sampson’s e-mail.

In sum, we concluded that the evidence did not support Sampson’s claim that he was advised by OLC that IJ positions were exempt from federal law governing career civil service positions.

Because the Attorney General’s direct appointment authority to hire IJs is a departure from the usual Department career hiring practices, we considered the possibility that Sampson may have been confused or mistaken about whether civil service laws apply to such hires. Yet, even if Sampson was confused or mistaken in his interpretation of the rules that applied to IJ hiring, we do not believe that would excuse his actions. His actions, which were carried out over a lengthy period of time and were not based on formal advice from anyone, systematically violated federal law and Department policy and constituted misconduct.

Report, pp. 117-118.

In sum, the evidence showed that Sampson, Williams, and Goodling violated federal law and Department policy, and Sampson and Goodling committed misconduct, by considering political and ideological affiliations in soliciting and selecting IJs, which are career positions protected by the civil service laws.

Report, p. 137.

Rules Violated (Pursuant to Rule 8.5. Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law , Utah Rules of Professional Conduct):

  1. Rule 8.4 – Misconduct – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.

Misleading Statements to Congress

Chairman Rep. John Conyers, Jr., provided this summary of the misleading testimony of Kyle Sampson, Chief of Staff to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in the Executive Summary of his memo to the members of the House Committee on the Judiciary:

Mr. Sampson appears to have made at least two significant misstatements to Congress. On January 18, 2007, he emailed the Senate Judiciary Committee Chief Counsel that “last year, eight USAs [were] asked to resign” and further assured him “per my prior reps to you, the number of USAs asked to resign in the last year won’t change: eight.” However, as the Committee subsequently learned, Mr. Graves was in fact forced to resign in January 2006. On February 23, 2007, Kyle Sampson drafted a Department letter, which was also approved by Chris Oprison of the White House Counsel’s office, stating that Karl Rove did not play any role in the decision to appoint Tim Griffin as interim U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Documents subsequently came to light showing that before proposing that statement be made to Congress, Kyle Sampson had written to Mr. Oprison that the appointment of Mr. Griffin was “important to Harriet, Karl, etc.,” and just a week before Mr. Oprison signed off on the statement, Tim Griffin had emailed both Karl Rove and Mr. Oprison and others regarding the U.S. Attorney position.

Memorandum to Members of the Committee on the Judiciary, from Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman, regarding Full Committee Consideration of Report on the Refusal of Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten to Comply With Subpoenas By the House Judiciary Committee, July 24, 2007, page v.

Rep. Conyers’ memorandum provides additional, sourced details:

Mr. Sampson has made a number of statements to Congress that may have been inaccurate. One such statement appears to have concealed the forced resignations of U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, which was not confirmed by the Department as a forced (as opposed to voluntary) resignation until May 2007. On January 18, 2007, Kyle Sampson emailed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chief Counsel that “last year, eight USAs asked to resign” and further assured him, “per my prior reps to you, the number of USAs asked to resign in the last year won’t change: eight.” [FN113] Such misstatements hampered the Committee’s investigation by concealing Mr. Graves’ connection to the firing process while many hearings and interviews on the matter were conducted, and caused the Committee to expend substantial resources trying to learn which U.S. Attorneys had been forced to resign by the Department and which had not. [FN114]

Mr. Sampson also led the drafting of a letter send by Richard Hertling on February 23, 2007, to several U.S. Senators that inaccurately stated that “The Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin,” a letter that the Department subsequently acknowledged was in part “contradicted by Department documents.” [FN115] Mr. Sampson’s knowledge of the inaccuracy of his statement regarding Mr. Rove is shown by his prior email stating “getting [Mr. Griffin] appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” [FN116] Mr. Sampson’s effort to explain this contradiction to the Senate Judiciary Committee by claiming that he had merely assumed that the Griffin appointment was important to Mr. Rove, and had not truly “known” that fact, is hard to credit. White House information, and particularly documents of Mr. Rove, would be critical in determining whether Mr. Sampson’s statements on this issue were truthful.

Mr. Sampson’s testimony regarding reasons for the firings and the development and maintenance of the firing list may itself prove to have been false or incomplete. As described below, many of the reasons offered by Mr. Sampson for the removal of these U.S. Attorneys do not appear to hold up to scrutiny. [FN117] And Mr. Sampson’s inability to remember many important details of the process, including critical recent details such as who suggest that David Iglesias be placed on the firing list just months prior to Mr. Sampson’s testimony on the subject, is particularly troubling. [FN118] Finally, the Committee has some concern about the email described above, transmitted to Mr. Moschella as he was preparing to testify before this Committee, in which Mr. Sampson appeared to validate an inaccurate version of events.

[FN113] OAG 1805-06. [This and subsequent like citations refer to numbered documents provided by the Office of the Attorney General to the Committee – E.M.]
[FN114] The Attorney General’s prepared testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in May 2007 also suggested that only eight U.S. Attorneys had been fired, referencing “the decision to request the resignations of eight (of the 93) U.S. Attorneys,” although there appears to be no fair basis for excluding Mr. Graves from the discussion of these issues other than the fact that the Committee had not learned at that time that Mr. Graves’ resignation had been forced. See Alberto Gonzales May 10, 2007, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Prepared Testimony at 2.
[FN115] Letter from Richard Hertling to John Conyers, Jr., Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, and Linda Sanchez, Chair, Subcomm. on Commercial and Admin. Law, Mar. 28, 2007.
[FN116] OAG 127
[FN117] See Section I.D.1 and I.D.2 below.
[FN118] Sampson, Apr. 15, 2007, Interview at 143.

Id., at pages 16-17.

In Section I.D.1 and I.D.2 referenced in footnote 117 above, the memorandum makes clear that Mr. Rove “raised the idea with officials in the White House Counsel’s office of replacing some or all of U.S. Attorneys[,] [FN135] and that “Mr. Rove’s request was forwarded to Kyle Sampson, then a deputy Chief of Staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who responded that most U.S. Attorneys ‘are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc.’ and that even ‘piecemeal’ replacement of U.S. Attorneys would cause political upheaval. [FN137] The memorandum adds that with “‘That said.’ Mr. Sampson wrote, ‘if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I.'” [FN138]

[FN135] OAG 180; Greenburg, E-mails Show Rove’s Role in U.S. Attorney Firings, ABC News, Mar. 15, 2007; Shapiro, Documents Show Justice Ranking US Attorney, NPR, Apr. 13, 2007 available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyID=9575434.
* * *
[FN137] OAG 180.
[FN138] Id .

Rules Violated (Pursuant toRule 8.5. Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law , Utah Rules of Professional Conduct):

  1. Rule 3.3 – Candor Toward the Tribunal – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.
  2. Rule 3.4 – Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.
  3. Rule 3.4 – Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (effective February 1, 2007)
  4. Rule 3.9 – Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.
  5. Rule 3.9 – Advocate in Non-adjudicative Proceedings of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (effective February 1, 2007)
  6. Rule 4.1 – Truthfulness in Statements to Others – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.
  7. Rule 4.1 – Truthfulness in Statements to Others of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (effective February 1, 2007)
  8. Rule 8.4 – Misconduct – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.

Providing Misleading Information in violation of Federal Law to Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling which Sampson knew AAG Hertling would communicate to Congress

As noted in the previous allegation, Rep. Conyers reports that:

Mr. Sampson also led the drafting of a letter send by Richard Hertling on February 23, 2007, to several U.S. Senators that inaccurately stated that “The Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin,” a letter that the Department subsequently acknowledged was in part “contradicted by Department documents.” [FN115] Mr. Sampson’s knowledge of the inaccuracy of his statement regarding Mr. Rove is shown by his prior email stating “getting [Mr. Griffin] appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” [FN116] Mr. Sampson’s effort to explain this contradiction to the Senate Judiciary Committee by claiming that he had merely assumed that the Griffin appointment was important to Mr. Rove, and had not truly “known” that fact, is hard to credit. White House information, and particularly documents of Mr. Rove, would be critical in determining whether Mr. Sampson’s statements on this issue were truthful.

[FN115] Letter from Richard Hertling to John Conyers, Jr., Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, and Linda Sanchez, Chair, Subcomm. on Commercial and Admin. Law, Mar. 28, 2007.
[FN116] OAG 127

As further reported at TPMMuckraker.com:

“On February 23, acting Assistant Attorney General wrote Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other senators in response to questions about the appointment of Timothy Griffin, a former aide to Rove. In the letter, Hertling stated “The Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin.”

“But emails subsequently released by the Justice Department showed that wasn’t the case. Last December, for example, Sampson wrote in an email that Griffin’s appointment was “important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” Other emails showed that Rove’s deputy had been intimately involved in the effort to get Griffin installed as the U.S. Attorney in Eastern Arkansas.

“In a letter accompanying documents sent to Congress today, Hertling admits that the assertion in his letter isn’t true, adding, “We sincerely regret any inaccuracy.” And to answer questions about who was responsible for that inaccuracy, he accompanied his letter with 202 pages documents “reflecting the preparation and transmittal of the February 23 letter.”

“Among the documents is a February 8th email from Kyle Sampson providing what ultimately, with a few small revisions, comprised Hertling’s letter. And in that email Sampson wrote that Hertling should say, “I am not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the Attorney General’s decision to appoint Griffin.”

“Now, Hertling might not have known of Rove’s role in Griffin’s selection, but Sampson sure did.”

New Docs Show Sampson Behind Misleading Statement to Congress, TPMMuckraker.com, March 28, 2007.

White House OK’ed Sampson Statement on Rove, TPMMuckraker.com, March 28, 2007.

Rules Violated (Pursuant toRule 8.5. Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law , Utah Rules of Professional Conduct):

  1. Rule 4.1 – Truthfulness in Statements to Others – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.
  2. Rule 4.1 – Truthfulness in Statements to Others of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (effective February 1, 2007)
  3. Rule 8.4 – Misconduct – This Rule governed the practice of law in the District of Columbia from January 1, 1991, through January 31, 2007. As of February 1, 2007, the New Rules took effect.

Text and comments of the Utah and Washington, D.C., Rules of Professional Conduct violated by Mr. Sampson

Alberto Gonzales

This morning, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that he will leave the Department of Justice, after two and a half years of service to the department. Al Gonzales is a man of integrity, decency and principle. And I have reluctantly accepted his resignation, with great appreciation for the service that he has provided for our country. * * * After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision. It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.

President George W. Bush, August 27, 2007

Personal Information:

Name: Gonzales, Alberto
Bar: Texas
ID No: No. 8118550
Status: Active

Grievance Information: Texas

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Texas
Main Grievance Page: Texas Client Assistance & Grievance
Ethics Rules: Texas Procedural and Conduct Rules
Complaint Form: Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel Grievance Form (.pdf)
Attorney Search: Texas Member Directory

Allegations:

Knowing Attempt to Coerce Execution of Legal Document by Incompetent Person

On March 4, 2004, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was stricken with pancreatitis for which he underwent gall bladder surgery. Prior to being admitted to the hospital, Ashcroft executed a formal document transferring the powers and responsibilities of the office of Attorney General to his Deputy Attorney General James Comey. This transfer of power was communicated to the White House. Knowing specifically that Ashcroft had both transferred power to Comey and had also not reclaimed his position, Alberto Gonzales, then-White House Counsel, visited the hospital intensive care bedside of Ashcroft on March 10, 2004 in an attempt to pressure Ashcroft to execute a legal document as the Attorney General. Ashcroft, who was barely conscious at the time, refused. Testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, acting-Attorney General James Comey stated that

I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.

Comey further testified that, after witnessing Gonzales’ visit, that

I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man who did not have the powers of the attorney general.

An excerpt of Comey’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 15, 2007, further explains the improper conduct of Gonzales:

COMEY: We had — yes. We had concerns as to our ability to certify its legality, which was our obligation for the program to be renewed.

The attorney general was taken that very afternoon [March 4, 2007] to George Washington Hospital, where he went into intensive care and remained there for over a week. And I became the acting attorney general.

And over the next week — particularly the following week, on Tuesday — we communicated to the relevant parties at the White House and elsewhere our decision that as acting attorney general I would not certify the program as to its legality and explained our reasoning in detail, which I will not go into here. Nor am I confirming it’s any particular program. That was Tuesday that we communicated that.

The next day was Wednesday, March the 10th, the night of the hospital incident. And I was headed home at about 8 o’clock that evening, my security detail was driving me. And I remember exactly where I was — on Constitution Avenue — and got a call from Attorney General Ashcroft’s chief of staff telling me that he had gotten a call…

SCHUMER: What’s his name?

COMEY: David Ayers. That he had gotten a call from Mrs. Ashcroft from the hospital. She had banned all visitors and all phone calls. So I hadn’t seen him or talked to him because he was very ill. And Mrs. Ashcroft reported that a call had come through, and that as a result of that call Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to the hospital to see Mr. Ashcroft.

SCHUMER: Do you have any idea who that call was from?

COMEY: I have some recollection that the call was from the president himself, but I don’t know that for sure. It came from the White House. And it came through and the call was taken in the hospital.

So I hung up the phone, immediately called my chief of staff, told him to get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately. I hung up, called Director Mueller and — with whom I’d been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week — and told him what was happening. He said, “I’ll meet you at the hospital right now.”

Told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital. I got out of the car and ran up — literally ran up the stairs with my security detail.

SCHUMER: What was your concern? You were in obviously a huge hurry.

COMEY: I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.

SCHUMER: Right, OK.

COMEY: I was worried about him, frankly. And so I raced to the hospital room, entered. And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed, Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn’t clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off.

SCHUMER: At that point it was you, Mrs. Ashcroft and the attorney general and maybe medical personnel in the room. No other Justice Department or government officials.

COMEY: Just the three of us at that point. I tried to see if I could help him get oriented. As I said, it wasn’t clear that I had succeeded.

I went out in the hallway. Spoke to Director Mueller by phone. He was on his way. I handed the phone to the head of the security detail and Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances. And I went back in the room.

I was shortly joined by the head of the Office of Legal Counsel assistant attorney general, Jack Goldsmith, and a senior staffer of mine who had worked on this matter, an associate deputy attorney general. So the three of us Justice Department people went in the room. I sat down…

SCHUMER: Just give us the names of the two other people.

COMEY: Jack Goldsmith, who was the assistant attorney general, and Patrick Philbin, who was associate deputy attorney general.

I sat down in an armchair by the head of the attorney general’s bed. The two other Justice Department people stood behind me. And Mrs. Ashcroft stood by the bed holding her husband’s arm. And we waited.

And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there — to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was — which I will not do.

And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me — drawn from the hour-long meeting we’d had a week earlier — and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, “But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general.”

SCHUMER: But he expressed his reluctance or he would not sign the statement that they — give the authorization that they had asked, is that right?

COMEY: Yes. And as he laid back down, he said, “But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general. There is the attorney general,” and he pointed to me, and I was just to his left. The two men did not acknowledge me. They turned and walked from the room. And within just a few moments after that, Director Mueller arrived. I told him quickly what had happened. He had a brief — a memorable brief exchange with the attorney general and then we went outside in the hallway.

SCHUMER: OK. Now, just a few more points on that meeting. First, am I correct that it was Mr. Gonzales who did just about all of the talking, Mr. Card said very little?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

SCHUMER: OK. And they made it clear that there was in this envelope an authorization that they hoped Mr. Ashcroft — Attorney General Ashcroft would sign.

COMEY: In substance. I don’t know exactly the words, but it was clear that’s what the envelope was.

SCHUMER: And the attorney general was — what was his condition? I mean, he had — as I understand it, he had pancreatitis. He was very, very ill; in critical condition, in fact.

COMEY: He was very ill. I don’t know how the doctors graded his condition. This was — this would have been his sixth day in intensive care. And as I said, I was shocked when I walked in the room and very concerned as I tried to get him to focus.

SCHUMER: Right. OK. Let’s continue. What happened after Mr. Gonzales and Card left? Did you have any contact with them in the next little while?

COMEY: While I was talking to Director Mueller, an agent came up to us and said that I had an urgent call in the command center, which was right next door. They had Attorney General Ashcroft in a hallway by himself and there was an empty room next door that was the command center. And he said it was Mr. Card wanting to speak to me.

I took the call. And Mr. Card was very upset and demanded that I come to the White House immediately. I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present.

He replied, “What conduct? We were just there to wish him well.”

And I said again, “After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness. And I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States.”

SCHUMER: Let me ask you this: So in sum, it was your belief that Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card were trying to take advantage of an ill and maybe disoriented man to try and get him to do something that many, at least in the Justice Department, thought was against the law? Was that a correct summation?

COMEY: I was concerned that this was an effort to do an end-run around the acting attorney general and to get a very sick man to approve something that the Department of Justice had already concluded — the department as a whole — was unable to be certified as to its legality. And that was my concern.

(Emphasis added.)

Robert S. Mueller, Director of the FBI, arrived at Ashcroft’s hospital room moments after Gonzalez left. In notes memorializing his observations of Ashcroft, Mueller described Ashcroft as “feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.”

Mr. Ashcroft himself confirms Mr. Comey’s observation that Mr. Ashcroft was ‘a very sick man’ and Mr. Mueller’s observation that Mr. Ashcroft was ‘feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.’ In Never Again – Securing America and Restoring Justice, former Attorney General John Ashcroft described his stay in the hospital and the subsequent period of recuperation in this manner (emphasis supplied):

They tubed me up with intravenous lines so they could shut down my pancreas and digestive system. … I felt weak and emaciated, but my doctors assured me that when they got me patched up, [i.e., removed his gall bladder,] over time, I’d be close to good as new.

The doctors kept me in intensive care, lying on my back for almost ten full days, pumping me full of antibiotics and morphine. They then sent me home, where I needed another three (3) weeks to recuperate. Following my bout with acute pancreatitus and the necessary surgery, I returned to work in the early spring of 2004. I had relinquished my official responsibilities as attorney general during my stay in the hospital and through the recuperation. I was in no position to exercise judgment or to make decisions on behalf of the United States Government.

John Ashcroft, Never Again – Securing America and Restoring Justice, p.235.

Clearly, Mr. Comey’s statement that he was concerned that Mr. Gonzales was trying ‘to do an end-run around the acting attorney general and to get a very sick man to approve something that the Department of Justice had already concluded — the department as a whole — was unable to be certified as to its legality’ is supported by the facts. Mr. Gonzales’ explanation, however, does not.

In explaining his conduct, Gonzales testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 24, 2007 that he went to the Ashcroft’s hospital at the behest of the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan congressional leaders who, according to Gonzales, had demanded that the program continue. Former Senator Tom Daschle, a member of the Gang of Eight, however, states that:

I have no recollection of such a meeting and believe that it didn’t occur. I am quite certain that at no time did we encourage the AG or anyone else to take such actions. This appears to be another attempt to rewrite history just as they have attempted to do with the war resolution.

Additionally, Gonzales’ testimony was further contradicted by other members of the Gang of Eight:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), who were briefed on the program at the time, said there was no consensus that it should proceed. Three others who were at the meeting also said the legal underpinnings of the program were never discussed.

“He once again is making something up to protect himself,” Rockefeller said of the embattled attorney general.

Ashcroft undergoes successful gall bladder removal, doctor says, USA Today, March 9, 2004

White House pressed Ashcroft on wiretaps , USA Today, May 15, 2007

Gonzales slammed for visiting hospitalized Ashcroft on wiretapping, USA Today, May 15, 2007

Transcript of testimony of Deputy Attorney General James Comey to Senate Judiciary Committee , Salon.com, May 15, 2007

In sickbed showdown, principle trumps power , USA Today, May 16, 2007

Senators renew call for Gonzales’ resignation, USA Today, May 16, 2007

Leahy asks Gonzales to clarify testimony, USA Today, July 18, 2007

Attorney General faces new questions, USA Today, July 19, 2007

Daschle: Gonzales Trying to “Rewrite History” by Blaming Congress for Ashcroft Spying Crisis, TPMMuckraker, July 24, 2007

Pelosi: I Objected to Spying When Comey Did, TPMMuckraker, July 24, 2007

Gonzales, Senators Spar on Credibility, Dan Eggen and Paul Kane. July 25, 2007

FBI chief’s notes detail Ashcroft visit, USA Today, August 16, 2007

Special Gonzales Top 10 (video), Talking Points Memo, August 28, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  2. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  3. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  4. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

False Statement to Congress

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6, 2007, Gonzales testified about a White House Situation Room briefing to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of and DoJ objections to an unidentified program. Then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey led the objections and questioned the program’s legality. Specifically, Gonzales stated that:

The dissent related to other intelligence activities. The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program. … It was not [about a program called the Terror Surveillance Program]. It was about other intelligence activities.

According to the Washington Post,

Gonzales, testifying for the first time in February 2006 about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which involved eavesdropping on phone calls between the United States and places overseas, told two congressional committees that the program had not provoked serious disagreement involving Comey or others. “None of the reservations dealt with the program that we are talking about today,” Gonzales said then. No Dissent on Spying, Says Justice Dept. , Washington Post, R. Jeffrey Smith, May 17, 2007

The New York Times adds that

Mr. Gonzales insisted before the Senate this week that the 2004 dispute did not involve the Terrorist Surveillance Program “confirmed” by President Bush, who has acknowledged eavesdropping without warrants but has never acknowledged the data mining. Mining of Data Prompted Fight Over U.S. Spying , New York Times, Scott Shange and David Johnston, July 29, 2007

However, a May 17, 2006 memo from then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte addressed to then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert confirms that the briefing on March 10, 2004, was indeed about the TSP and detailed “the classification of the dates, locations, and names of members of Congress who attended briefings on the Terrorist Surveillance Program[.]” As noted by reporter Spencer Ackerman,

As the world knows, Gonzales testified on Tuesday that James Comey, the former deputy attorney general, may have had legal objections to … to… well, to some “intelligence activities” by the Bush administration, but not to the surveillance program announced by President Bush in December 2005, known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Stunned lawmakers immediately began talking about perjury charges: the previously-unknown “program” came as very convenient for Gonzales, who had told the Senate on February 6, 2006 that no one within the Justice Department had dissented from the program the “president described.”

* * *

If Gonzales concedes that the March 10, 2004 meeting was about the TSP, he’ll be conceding that Comey’s objections were indeed about the TSP — and that means that his February 6, 2006 testimony misled the Senate. In other words, unless Gonzales can prove that the March 10, 2004 meeting wasn’t about the TSP, he’s going to be hounded by perjury charges for the rest of his tenure.

Additionally, Jack Goldsmith testified on October 1, 2007, that

And counter to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ testimony to Congress, Goldsmith said there were “enormous disagreements about many aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program.” Goldsmith repeatedly used the plural when describing those disagreements, making it clear that it was not a single aspect of the program that was at issue. Goldsmith: Legal Basis for Surveillance Program was “Biggest Mess” , TPMMuckraker, October 1, 2007

Senators renew call for Gonzales’ resignation, USA Today, May 16, 2007

Another Surveillance Program or a Lie?, TPMMuckraker, May 22, 2007

Ashcroft: Officials fought over snooping, USA Today, June 21, 2007

Leahy to Gonzales: Start Trying to Remember Now, TPMMuckraker, July 18, 2007

Today’s Must Read, TPMMuckraker, July 18, 2007

Documents contradict Gonzales’ testimony, USA Today, July 25, 2007

Letter from Sens. Schumer, Feinstein, Feingold and Whitehouse to Solicitor General Paul Clement , July 26, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  2. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  3. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  4. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 473, June 1991
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 473, V. 56 Tex. B.J. 705 (1993)
Section 3.03(a)(2) of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act….

Attempt to Improperly Influence a Witness and False Statements to Congress

On May 23, 2007, former Justice Department aide Monica Goodling testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that a conversation with Gonzales about his recollections of the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys made her “uncomfortable.” According to Goodling in her testimony to Congress, Gonzales recounted his recollection of events surrounding the firing of up to nine (9) United States Attorneys before asking for her reaction. Goodling testified that Gonzales began telling Goodling what he remembered about the firing process and then asked her if she had “any reaction” to his memory. “I didn’t know that it was maybe appropriate for us to talk about that,” she said, adding that it made her “uncomfortable.” She said Gonzales’ comments discomfited her because both Congress and the Justice Department had already launched investigations of the dismissals. Additionally, Goodling’s testimony contradicted Gonzales’ testimony to Congress that he could not remember numerous details about the prosecutors’ dismissals because he had purposely avoided discussing the issue with other potential “fact witnesses.” This matter is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.

Goodling Testifies about Gonzales Meeting , TPMMuckraker, May 23, 2007

Letter to Sens. Leahy and Specter from US DoJ, OIG, TPMMuckraker, May 23, 2007

Gonzales Meeting With Aide Scrutinized , The Washington Post, June 15, 2007

Leahy asks Gonzales to clarify testimony, USA Today, July 18, 2007

Leahy to Gonzales: Start Trying to Remember Now, TPMMuckraker, July 18, 2007

Gonzales: Witness Tampering? No, It Was Witness Consolation, TPMMuckraker, July 24, 2007

Letter from Sens. Schumer, Feinstein, Feingold and Whitehouse to Solicitor General Paul Clement , July 26, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 1.06 Conflict of Interest: General Rule
  2. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  3. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  4. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  5. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 473, June 1991
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 473, V. 56 Tex. B.J. 705 (1993)
Section 3.03(a)(2) of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act….

Complicity in Violations of the Presidential Records Act

During investigation of the firing of nine (9) United States Attorneys, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee learned that Republican National Committee e-mail accounts, that were supposed to be used only to conduct political work, were in fact used to evade the federal law on retaining presidential records. The existence of such communications were discovered in the investigation of the firing of nine (9) U.S. attorneys last year. In a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Rep. Henry Waxman noted e-mails from senior aides who were using the RNC and other e-mail accounts that were controlled by the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign.

Since March, the Committee has been examining why White House officials used e-mail
accounts operated and controlled by the Republican National Committee for official government
business, apparently in violation of the Presidential Records Act. I am writing to request your
assistance in obtaining documents and interviews relevant to the Committee’s investigation.
On June 18,2007 ,I released an interim report prepared by the majority staff on the status
of the Committee’s investigation. This report found that at least 88 White House officials had
RNC e-mail accounts, more than the White House had previously acknowledged. It also found
that although the RNC has preserved 674,367 e-mails to or from White House officials on RNC
accounts, there was extensive destruction by the RNC of White House e-mails. Of the 88 White
House officials who received RNC e-mail accounts, the RNC preserved no e-mails for 51
officials. In general, the RNC appears to have destroyed most of the e-mails sent or received by
White House officials prior to 2006.

The interim report described evidence that the Office of White House Counsel under
Alberto Gonzales may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts
for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records. In a deposition
before the Committee on May 10, 2007, Susan Ralston, Karl Rove’s former executive assistant,
testified that she and Mr. Rove searched for e-mails on his political accounts in response to
requests from two separate investigations. Ms. Ralston stated that in 2001, Mr. Rove was asked
to search his political computer in response to a request relating to an investigation involving
Enron. She testified that the White House Counsel’s office would have known about these searches “because all of the documents that we collected were then turned over to the White
House Counsel’s office.”2 According to Ms. Ralston, this investigation was related to the Vice
President’s energy task force and contacts with Enron.’

In addition, Ms. Ralston testified that Mr. Rove searched his RNC e-mail account in
response to several subpoenas from Patrick Fitzgerald during the investigation into the leak of
the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. She testified that the White House Counsel’s
office also knew about these searches and received copies of the search results.

It would be a matter of serious concern if Mr. Gonzales or other attorneys in the Office of
White House Counsel were aware that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts to
conduct official White House business, but ignored these apparent violations of the Presidential
Records Act.

Letter from Rep. Henry Waxman to Fred Fielding, July 25, 2007

Letter from Sens. Schumer, Feinstein, Feingold and Whitehouse to Solicitor General Paul Clement , July 26, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 1.06 Conflict of Interest: General Rule
  2. Rule 8.03 Reporting Professional Misconduct (regarding any improper use of e-mails by Harriet Miers)
  3. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

False Statements to Congress regarding abuses of USA Patriot Act by FBI

In testimony to the Senate seeking to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Gonzales testified that the FBI had not abused its use of national security letters. Specifically, he stated on April 27, 2005 that “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.” However , six (6) days earlier,

the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

Gonzales Was Told of FBI Violations , John Solomon, Washington Post, July 10, 2007

When Did AG Gonzales Know About FBI Abuses? , TPMMuckraker, July 10, 2007

Today’s Must Read , TPMMuckraker, July 10, 2007

Gonzales: NSL Abuses Weren’t Really Abuses , TPMMuckraker, July 24, 2007

Letter from Sens. Schumer, Feinstein, Feingold and Whitehouse to Solicitor General Paul Clement , July 26, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  2. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  3. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  4. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 473, June 1991
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 473, V. 56 Tex. B.J. 705 (1993)
Section 3.03(a)(2) of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act….

Conflict of Interest and/or Failure to Procure Written Waiver of Conflict

Murray Waas of the National Journal, writes that

Shortly before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales advised President Bush last year on whether to shut down a Justice Department inquiry regarding the administration’s warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, Gonzales learned that his own conduct would likely be a focus of the investigation, according to government records and interviews.

Bush personally intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe in April 2006 by taking the unusual step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work.

It is unclear whether the president knew at the time of his decision that the Justice inquiry — to be conducted by the department’s internal ethics watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility — would almost certainly examine the conduct of his attorney general.

Sources familiar with the halted inquiry said that if the probe had been allowed to continue, it would have examined Gonzales’ role in authorizing the eavesdropping program while he was White House counsel, as well as his subsequent oversight of the program as attorney general.

Both the White House and Gonzales declined comment on two issues — whether Gonzales informed Bush that his own conduct was about to be scrutinized, and whether he urged the president to close down the investigation, which had been requested by Democratic members of Congress.

* * *

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at the New York University School of Law and an expert on legal ethics issues, questioned Gonzales’s continued role in advising Bush in any capacity about the probe after he learned that his own conduct might be scrutinized: “If the attorney general was on notice that he was a person of interest to the OPR inquiry, he should have stepped aside and not been involved in any decisions about the scope or the continuation of the investigation.”

Bush Blocked Justice Department Investigation, Murray Waas, National Journal, July 18, 2006

Internal Affairs, Murray Waas, National Journal, March 15, 2007

Gonzales: Don’t Blame Me, Blame Bush, TPMMuckraker, March 23, 2007

Memorandum to the Senate Judiciary Committee from Chairman John Conyers, pp. 14 -5, July 24, 2007

The Case Against Gonzales , The Anonymous Liberal, July 27, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 1.06 Conflict of Interest: General Rule
  2. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinion:

OPINION 325, December 1966
[Citing] Opinion 173 (March, 1968):
“Public officials should act with the utmost caution at all times to avoid any suspicion on the part of the public that there is some influence operating on the Court in the handling of matters before it and they should not conduct themselves in such a way as to impair the confidence which the community has in the administration of justice.”
The same policy carries forward to the conduct of an attorney after his retirement from public office and he should not accept employment in any matter which might be calculated to arouse suspicion of impropriety in the public mind.

OPINION 367, March 1974
Ethical Consideration 9-3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides “after a lawyer leaves judicial office or other public employment, he should not accept employment in connection with any matter in which he had substantial responsibility prior to his leaving, since to accept employment would give the appearance of impropriety even if none exists.

OPINION 441, March 1987
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 441, V. 50 Tex. B.J. 618 (1987)
A lawyer may not represent an interest adverse to a client’s or a former client’s interest if the two matters are substantially related. Such adverse representation is prohibited in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

OPINION 494, February 1994
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 494, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 786 (1994)
Is an attorney disqualified from representing a client in a situation where the husband had a brief consultation with the attorney in 1986, and the wife consulted the attorney in a subsequent divorce action in 1992?
* * *
Were the factual matters involved in the representation so related that there is a genuine threat that confidences gained in the former representation will be divulged to the attorney’s present client?
ANSWER
Yes. The wife seeks to have the attorney represent her in a divorce from her husband, after the husband consulted with the attorney about a possible divorce from his wife. Obviously this factor is met. In a similar opinion, (Opinion 294, TBJ, September 1964) the committee found that an attorney who represented the wife in a prior divorce action, which was dismissed upon reconciliation, could not ethically represent her husband in a subsequent divorce suit filed against her by her husband. The committee reasoned that an attorney’s duty to preserve a client’s confidence outlasts his or her employment, and employment which involves the disclosure or use of these confidences to the disadvantage of the client.
CONCLUSION
The attorney’s representation of the wife would be in violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

OPINION 527, April 1999
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics. Op. 527, V. 62 Tex. B.J. 4 (1999)
SUMMARY OF APPLICABLE RULE
Prior applicable ethics opinions, decisions of the Texas Supreme Court, and the provisions of Rule 1.09 may be summarized as follows:
1. Rule 1.09 prohibits an attorney who has personally represented a former client from representing a person in a matter adverse to the former client if such new representation would violate any of the provisions of Rule 1.09(a).
2. If an attorney is prohibited under Rule 1.09(a) from accepting a representation adverse to a former client, each attorney currently associated with such disqualified attorney is vicariously prohibited from accepting such representation under Rule 1.09(b).
3. If an attorney who personally represented a former client leaves a law firm, the lawyers who remain at the firm are thereafter prohibited from knowingly representing a person adverse to that former client only if a lawyer presently associated with the firm is personally disqualified from accepting the representation under Rule 1.09(a) or the firm’s proposed representation involves the validity of the departed lawyer’s legal services or work product for such former client while he was associated with the firm, or the proposed representation will with reasonable probability involve a violation of Rule 1.05 with respect to the confidential information of such former client.
4. If, as in this ethics opinion, a lawyer terminates his association with a law firm and such firm retains as a client a person whom the departing lawyer personally represented while he was associated with the firm, any subsequent representation by the departed lawyer adverse to such former client is governed by Rule 1.09(a). And, all lawyers currently associated with the departed lawyer are treated the same by reason of Rule 1.09(b). The departed lawyer and members of his new firm can represent a person adverse to such former client only if the representation does not violate Rule 1.09(a)(1),(2), or (3).

False Statements to Congress regarding Intentions to appoint US Attorneys pursuant to USA Patriot Act

On January 18, 2007, Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and stated:

“I am fully committed, as the administration’s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.”

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Gonzales Lies Under Oath, Think Progress, March 16, 2007

Again on April 19, 2007, Gonzales testified that had rejected a White House plan to appoint United States Attorneys pursuant to recent amendments to the USA Patriot Act which would permit the Attorney General to appoint United States Attorneys without having the appointments confirmed by the United States Senate and further stated that he never considered the plan. However, Gonzales’ former chief of staff Kyle Sampson testified in March to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Gonzales did not reject the idea of circumventing the Senate until after Gonzales had spoken with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) in mid-December about Tim Griffin’s appointment as a United States Attorney in Arkansas. Sampson testified that he did discuss the idea with Gonzales and that Gonzales did not reject the outright.

Schumer Tears into Gonzales, TPMMuckraker, April 19, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  2. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  3. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  4. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 473, June 1991
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 473, V. 56 Tex. B.J. 705 (1993)
Section 3.03(a)(2) of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act….

Conflict of Interest

In his letter to Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Paul Hodes, Attorney Paul Twomey states:

We are writing to you in order to bring to your attention to what appears to be disturbing evidence of a pattern of political interference in the Department of Justice’s investigation of the phone jamming in 2002 United States Senate election in the State of New Hampshire.

On November 5, 2002, operatives working on behalf of the New Hampshire Republican Party entered into a criminal conspiracy which had as its goal the total disruption of the political communications of the New Hampshire Democratic Party in order to gain an unfair advantage in what was a very closely contested United States Senate election. To date, four individuals have been indicted and convicted including Charles McGee, the 2002 Executive Director of the Republican Party and James Tobin, a long time Republican operative who was at that time Regional Political Director for both the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (NRSC)

Additionally, a civil suit was brought on behalf of the New Hampshire Democratic Party against the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Throughout both the criminal prosecution and the civil suit, there were repeated actions of commission and omission on the part of the Department of Justice that give rise to serious questions as to whether or not there was political interference which operated to distort the judicial process.

* * *

After the filing of the criminal charges when an attorney acting for the Democratic Party, Finis Williams, was informed by the prosecutor that the delays were
due to the extreme difficulty in obtaining authorization from higher levels at DOJ for any and all actions in the case. We have been further informed by Attorney John Durkin (counsel for Republican criminal defendants, Allen Raymond) that he was told by a DOJ prosecutor that all decisions in this case had to be made subject to the approval of the Attorney General himself who had to sign off on all actions in this case. As will be discussed below, the two individuals who served as Attorney General during this case both have actual conflicts of interest that would appear to rule out ethical involvement in the investigation and prosecution of the phone jamming.

* * *

As stated above, prosecutors in this case have indicated that both that the slow pace of this case has been occasioned by delays caused by individuals at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and that all decisions had to be reviewed by the Attorney General himself. Given the extreme and critical importance of an assault on free elections by high officials in a major political party, is it certainly appropriate for attention to be given to the case by at the highest levels at the Department of Justice. However, the attention so given should be of assistance in the expeditious and efficacious prosecution of those involved. In this case, however, the attention of the higher ups in the Justice Department served only to delay, if not deny, justice.

Both Attorney General’s Ashcroft and Gonzalez had personal conflicts of interest which should have resulted in them recusing themselves from all action in the case. Attorney General Ashcroft, at the time of these events, had recently been a United States Senator and a member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, one of the organizations for which James Tobin was working when he undertook his criminal activities. The conflict for Attorney General Gonzalez is even more apparent. At the time of the phone jamming, Attorney General Gonzales was legal counsel to the White House. During the course of the criminal conspiracy, defendant, James Tobin, made literally hundreds of calls to the political office of the White House. In the civil case, a deposition was taken of Alicia Davis, Deputy to Ken Mehlman, who was then the Political Director of the White House regarding her conversations with both Tobin and Jayne Millerick, a Republican operative on Election Day 2002. The New Hampshire Democratic Party sought to have documents produced from the White House concerning these contacts. (This request was denied by the White House on the grounds of executive privilege, although the documents sought only related to the non-official actions of the White House Political Office would not appear to be subject to executive privilege. In fact, the phone records sought were for phones that could not be paid by public funds according to the terms of the Hatch Act).

It is perfectly clear that there were significant questions regarding the involvement of the political office of the White House in this case. When it came to light that the Republican National Committee had paid several million dollars for the legal fees of James Tobin, former, RNC Chair Gillespie told a reporter that the decision to pay these legal fees made in consultation with the White House.
As Attorney General Gonzalez was then counsel for the White House, it is totally inappropriate for him to have taken any part in investigation and prosecution of the phone jamming case where part of the inquiry would involve the possible involvement of individuals working for the White House.

Letter to Sen. Leahy and Cong. Hodes, Paul Twomey, Esq., March 21, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 1.06 Conflict of Interest: General Rule
  2. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 325, December 1966
[Citing] Opinion 173 (March, 1968):
“Public officials should act with the utmost caution at all times to avoid any suspicion on the part of the public that there is some influence operating on the Court in the handling of matters before it and they should not conduct themselves in such a way as to impair the confidence which the community has in the administration of justice.”
The same policy carries forward to the conduct of an attorney after his retirement from public office and he should not accept employment in any matter which might be calculated to arouse suspicion of impropriety in the public mind.

OPINION 367, March 1974
Ethical Consideration 9-3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides “after a lawyer leaves judicial office or other public employment, he should not accept employment in connection with any matter in which he had substantial responsibility prior to his leaving, since to accept employment would give the appearance of impropriety even if none exists.

OPINION 441, March 1987
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 441, V. 50 Tex. B.J. 618 (1987)
A lawyer may not represent an interest adverse to a client’s or a former client’s interest if the two matters are substantially related. Such adverse representation is prohibited in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

OPINION 494, February 1994
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 494, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 786 (1994)
Is an attorney disqualified from representing a client in a situation where the husband had a brief consultation with the attorney in 1986, and the wife consulted the attorney in a subsequent divorce action in 1992?
* * *
Were the factual matters involved in the representation so related that there is a genuine threat that confidences gained in the former representation will be divulged to the attorney’s present client?
ANSWER
Yes. The wife seeks to have the attorney represent her in a divorce from her husband, after the husband consulted with the attorney about a possible divorce from his wife. Obviously this factor is met. In a similar opinion, (Opinion 294, TBJ, September 1964) the committee found that an attorney who represented the wife in a prior divorce action, which was dismissed upon reconciliation, could not ethically represent her husband in a subsequent divorce suit filed against her by her husband. The committee reasoned that an attorney’s duty to preserve a client’s confidence outlasts his or her employment, and employment which involves the disclosure or use of these confidences to the disadvantage of the client.
CONCLUSION
The attorney’s representation of the wife would be in violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

OPINION 527, April 1999
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics. Op. 527, V. 62 Tex. B.J. 4 (1999)
SUMMARY OF APPLICABLE RULE
Prior applicable ethics opinions, decisions of the Texas Supreme Court, and the provisions of Rule 1.09 may be summarized as follows:
1. Rule 1.09 prohibits an attorney who has personally represented a former client from representing a person in a matter adverse to the former client if such new representation would violate any of the provisions of Rule 1.09(a).
2. If an attorney is prohibited under Rule 1.09(a) from accepting a representation adverse to a former client, each attorney currently associated with such disqualified attorney is vicariously prohibited from accepting such representation under Rule 1.09(b).
3. If an attorney who personally represented a former client leaves a law firm, the lawyers who remain at the firm are thereafter prohibited from knowingly representing a person adverse to that former client only if a lawyer presently associated with the firm is personally disqualified from accepting the representation under Rule 1.09(a) or the firm’s proposed representation involves the validity of the departed lawyer’s legal services or work product for such former client while he was associated with the firm, or the proposed representation will with reasonable probability involve a violation of Rule 1.05 with respect to the confidential information of such former client.
4. If, as in this ethics opinion, a lawyer terminates his association with a law firm and such firm retains as a client a person whom the departing lawyer personally represented while he was associated with the firm, any subsequent representation by the departed lawyer adverse to such former client is governed by Rule 1.09(a). And, all lawyers currently associated with the departed lawyer are treated the same by reason of Rule 1.09(b). The departed lawyer and members of his new firm can represent a person adverse to such former client only if the representation does not violate Rule 1.09(a)(1),(2), or (3).

False Statements to Congress regarding reasons for firing nine (9) US Attorneys

Gonzales testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would ‘never, ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons…. I just would not do it.” This is claim is directly contrary to the known facts that United States Attorney Bud Collins and other United States Attorneys were asked to resign so that Tim Griffin, as a replacement for Mr. Collins, and others to “build there resumes [and] get in (sic) experience Attorney as a United States attorney.”

Memorandum to the Senate Judiciary Committee from Chairman John Conyers, pp. 14 -5, July 24, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  2. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  3. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  4. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 473, June 1991
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 473, V. 56 Tex. B.J. 705 (1993)
Section 3.03(a)(2) of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act….

False Statements to Congress regarding Conversations with Senator Pete Domenici

Gonzales testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that in a conversation that occurred he spoke to Senator Pete Domenici who, according to Sen. Domenici, criticized the performance of United States Attorney David Iglesias. William Moschella, an attorney with DoJ, testified that he was present during each of these phone conferences, that it was his impression that each conversation regarded only the allocation of additional funding and that Gonzales had never relayed to him that the calls were critical of Iglesias. An e-mail regarding a phone conference further states that “Senator Domenici would like to talk to the AG regarding his concerns about staffing shortages” which supports Mr. Moschella’s contention that that conversation(s) were about funding issues only.

Memorandum to the Senate Judiciary Committee from Chairman John Conyers, pp. 14 -5, July 24, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 3.04 Fairness in Adjudicatory Proceedings
  2. Rule 3.05 Maintaining Impartiality of Tribunal
  3. Rule 3.10 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings
  4. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 473, June 1991
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 473, V. 56 Tex. B.J. 705 (1993)
Section 3.03(a)(2) of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act….

Failure to report Unethical Conduct

Then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers was properly served with a compulsory subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee. Claiming executive privilege, Ms. Miers failed to appear before the relevant tribunal. Gonzales knew about the compulsory subpoena and provided legal advise to Ms. Miers through the Department of Justice that application of the privilege obviated her need to even appear before the tribunal.

And as noted above, in his letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Rep. Henry Waxman noted e-mails from senior aides who were using the RNC and other e-mail accounts that were controlled by the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign:

It would be a matter of serious concern if Mr. Gonzales or other attorneys in the Office of
White House Counsel were aware that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts to
conduct official White House business, but ignored these apparent violations of the Presidential
Records Act.

Letter from Rep. Henry Waxman to Fred Fielding, July 25, 2007

Rules Violated:

  1. Rule 1.06 Conflict of Interest: General Rule
  2. Rule 8.03 Reporting Professional Misconduct
  3. Rule 8.04 Misconduct

Texas Professional Ethics Opinions:

OPINION 520, May 1997
Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 520, V. 60 Tex. B.J. 490 (1997)
QUESTION
Does Rule 8.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct require a lawyer to report suspected misconduct by another lawyer, when the first lacks solid proof that the second lawyer engaged in the suspected conduct?
DISCUSSION
Rule 8.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules) provides in pertinent part:
(a) Except as permitted in paragraphs (c) or (d), [FN1] a lawyer having knowledge that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate disciplinary authority.
Comment three explains that Rule 8.03 “. . . describes only those disciplinary violations that must be revealed by the disclosing lawyer in order for that lawyer to avoid violating [the] rules.” (Emphasis added.) Comment four further elaborates by stating that Rule 8.03 “limits [a lawyer’s] reporting obligations to those offenses that a self-regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent.” Hence a lawyer is required to report violations of the applicable rules of professional conduct that raise a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.
Comment three, however, also provides that Rule 8.03 “is not intended to . . . limit those actual or suspected violations that a lawyer may report to an appropriate disciplinary authority.” (Emphasis added.) Rather, lawyers are instructed to use their best judgment in complying with the reporting requirements of the rule. See comment four.
With regard to a report of alleged misconduct, comment two recognizes that “. . . the existence of a violation [frequently] cannot be established with certainty until a disciplinary investigation . . . has been undertaken. Similarly, an apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only such an investigation or inquiry can uncover. Consequently, a lawyer should not fail to report an apparent disciplinary violation merely because he or she cannot determine its existence or scope with absolute certainty.”
The text of Rule 8.03(a), however, requires that a lawyer have knowledge (rather than suspicion) that another lawyer has committed a violation of the applicable rules before informing the appropriate disciplinary authority. A report of misconduct must therefore be based upon objective facts that are likely to have evidentiary support.
CONCLUSION
Rule 8.03(a) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct is limited to those disciplinary violation that must be revealed by the disclosing lawyer in order for that lawyer to avoid violating the rules. As recognized in the commentary, however, Rule 8.03(a) is not intended to limit the actual or suspected violations that a lawyer may report to an appropriate disciplinary authority. Before reporting an alleged violation, however, Rule 8.03(a) requires that a lawyer have knowledge that another lawyer has in fact committed a violation of the rules. A report of misconduct must therefore be based upon such objective facts that are likely to have evidentiary support. It is beyond the scope of this opinion to comment on specific facts that would constitute sufficient basis for a report of misconduct.

FN1–Paragraph (c) pertains to a lawyer who knows or suspects that another lawyer or judge is impaired by chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs, or by mental illness. Paragraph (d) pertains to the disclosure/non-disclosure of confidential information.

Text and comments of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct violated by Mr. Gonzales