Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet Miers: closer to Coulter than O'Connor

According to Joshua Frank, there's enough poop on Harriet Miers to clearly validate her credentials as a card carrying Bushevik. While Miers is touted as a trailblazer for her role at the helm of Dallas-based Locke, Liddell & Sapp, the firm represented Russell Erxleben for his foreign currency trading Ponzi scheme. Erxleben pleaded guilty to securities-fraud & federal conspiracy charges, his co-conspirators paid a $22 million settlement after being charged with aiding him in his scheme [emphasis mine]
When Houston attorney Janet Mortenson was named permanent receiver for
Russell Erxleben's failed Austin Forex International one year ago she
became privy to the work product from the lawyers who had advised the
former University of Texas star kicker.

Mortenson's lawyers, from Austin's Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan,
Kever & McDaniel, allege she found notes and memos indicating that
Erxleben's lawyers aided him in defrauding investors in his currency
trading company.

Now Mortenson and investors who lost at least $ 33 million have joined
in a suit against two prominent law firms, four individual lawyers, an
accounting giant and a California currency trading company.

"We think we can prove what happened basically through the writings of
the lawyers themselves," says Bickerstaff partner Michael Shaunessy.
"[Mortenson] has the unique advantage of having certain privileged
information that investors wouldn't have on their own."

The suit, filed Oct. 13 in Travis County, names Locke Liddell & Sapp and Sheinfeld, Maley & Kay, along with four lawyers who work or formerly worked for those firms. They are Locke Liddell partner Curtis Ashmos of Austin, former partners Daniel N. Matheson III and Jane Matheson, and Sheinfeld, Maley shareholder Lee Polson.


In April 1997, AFI hired Locke Purnell Rain Harrell, today know as Locke
Liddell & Sapp. That month, the petition alleges, Dan Matheson wrote
after meeting Erxleben: "Funds not segregated but pooled w/ the funds of
others . . . & allocated on basis deemed to be fair and reasonable by
AFI, but solely at AFI's discretion."

That, the petition alleges, shows the lawyers knew or should have known that AFI was an issuer of securities. An October 1997 letter from Ashmosto Erxleben confirmed that registration was not necessary. The petition claims that the letter was used to assure investors that AFI was not selling securities.

That same month, according to the petition, Jane Matheson learned of
AFI's substantial losses as she was working on a life insurance trust
for Erxleben. "Jane Matheson was told that AFI had 100 investors who had invested $ 5 million with the company. She was told that of this amount $ 1 million was in negative positions," the suit alleges, referring to a memo in the exhibits.

Despite this knowledge, Locke Purnell lawyers signed off on a brochure that touted annual returns of 100 percent, the petition alleges. [Class Action Reporter]
Frank also notes that Meirs not only helped Bush dodge questions about his National Guard Service, she allegedly bought the silence of Benjamin Barnes - the man who had some scoop on how W avoided service in Viet Nam
At roughly the same time Miers was helping Bush dodge National Guard questions; Bush had named her chair of the Texas Lottery Commission, which had been scandal-plagued for years. The chief issue before Miers and the commission was whether to retain lottery operator Gtech, which had been implicated in a huge Texas bribery scandal.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Gtech's main lobbyist in Texas in the mid-1990s was none other than Benjamin Barnes, who just happened to have the low-down on how Bush got into the National Guard to avoid going over to Vietnam.

Gtech fired Barnes, in 1997. A short time after Barnes was fired, Gtech had its lottery contract renewed even though two companies had bid-lower than Gtech had.
On the side of social conservatism, it's noted that Meirs opposed repealing the Texas sodomy law that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003 and "unequivocally opposed making abortion legal." As I said yesterday, the devil's in the details and Bush made it clear today that he knows those details
"I've known her for more than 10 years. know her character. She's a woman of principle and deep conviction."
Openly providing assurance that his nominee will use the court to outlaw abortion and break down the barriers between church & state could sink her nomination; the blank slate approach works in her favor.

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