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CRC News Releases

 

New Documents, Rancher's Lawyer,
Contradict 9th Circuit Nominee's Testimony
New Questions on Myers' Veracity Warrant Investigation?

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Contact: Chas Offutt (PEER) at (202) 265-7337;
Doug Kendall (Community Rights Counsel) at (202) 296-6889 x3

 


Washington, DC - Contrary to his sworn Senate testimony, industry lobbyist and controversial judicial nominee William Myers may have been aware of the terms of an improper settlement reached with a politically connected Wyoming rancher, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Community Rights Counsel (CRC).

The two groups are asking the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate further, including questioning one of Myers' former subordinates at the Interior Solicitor's Office.

Myers was the controversial former Solicitor for the Department of Interior who has been nominated by President Bush to serve on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

At issue is whether Myers was truthful when he repeatedly assured the Senate that he was not briefed and "did not know" the terms of the controversial settlement with a Wyoming rancher that was subsequently criticized by the Interior Office of Inspector General.

According to the rancher's attorney, Myers was fully informed on the progress and key terms by his hand-picked subordinate, Robert Comer, the Regional Solicitor for the Rocky Mountain Region. In further support of her contention that Myers was in the loop, the rancher's attorney, Karen Budd-Falen, has provided a fax directed to Myers, among others, attaching a draft of the Robbins agreement.

One of the controversies about the settlement was its exclusion of a lawsuit by the rancher against federal employees accusing them of racketeering, under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). Myers has contended that he was unaware of this provision and the Interior Office of Inspector General maintains Comer misled Myers on this point.

In a rebuttal prepared by Budd-Falen, she wrote:

"[The OIG] Report assumes that Comer failed to inform his superiors of the status and issues and positions in the Settlement Agreement, including the RICO issue. This is simply not the case…Due to Roberts' [the Assistant U.S. Attorney] repeated insistence that the RICO case not be included in the Settlement Agreement, it was eventually removed by Comer…[Interior and Department of Justice officials] and Bill Myers (Solicitor for the Department of Interior) were all notified of this change." (citations omitted)

"Who is telling the truth, Bill Myers or his trusted aide?" asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who filed the complaint sparking the OIG investigation. "The Senate should hear what Regional Solicitor Comer has to say before it casts a vote on a lifetime appointment for Bill Myers to serve on one of the highest courts in the land."

"This new evidence suggests Myers was in the loop when this deal was cut," said Doug Kendall, CRC's Executive Director. "It suggests that a central part of Mr. Myers' Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was false. Plainly there needs to be an investigation of these developments."

The settlement agreement virtually immunized the rancher from penalties for grazing violations and left Interior's own employees in legal jeopardy. It was subsequently rescinded.

Myers has defended his role in the imbroglio by maintaining that he was not informed about the status or terms of the deal.


###

Peruse the letter from PEER and the Community Rights Counsel asking the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate further. You can also view the letter in PDF format.

Read the memo from Karen Budd-Falen, attorney for the rancher (PDF)

View the fax transmittal sheet from Comer to Myers attaching the Robbins settlement draft (PDF)

See Myers' answers to Robbins questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (PDF)

Look at relevant portions of Myers' previous testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (PDF)

Learn more about Myers' role in infamous grazing deal at
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=484

Read more information about Myers and the Robbins settlement

Learn more about Myers, including various media articles and newspaper editorials
against the nomination

 

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