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CRC News Releases

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Contact: Doug Kendall, 202-296-6889


After a two-year investigation into an outrageous settlement that gave a politically-connected Wyoming rancher named Frank Robbins virtually carte blanche authority to violate federal grazing laws, the Department of the Interior's Inspector General Earl E. Devaney placed blame squarely upon the Office of Solicitor, headed by Solicitor William Myers. Yesterday, the President renominated Myers to a lifetime appointment on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a letter dated February 10, 2005 to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Devaney summarized his completed but yet-to-be released investigation. (Click here to read that letter in PDF format). According to Devaney, Myers' office "circumvented" normal negotiation processes, shut the BLM out of the negotiations, ignored concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice, engaged in "an inappropriate level of programmatic involvement" and presided over a negotiation and agreement process that suffered from a "profound lack of transparency." As a result, the public trust was broken. As Devaney understates it in his letter: "the interests of BLM and those of individual BLM employees were not adequately protected by the terms of the settlement agreement."

An earlier investigation by Delaney, released in November 2003 confirms that Myers was personally briefed on the status of the Robbins settlement on several occasions. (see footnote 1 below). This report thus raises important new questions about Myers' fitness for confirmation to a lifetime seat on the federal appellate bench at the same time that Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa) is trying to move the Myers nomination, without a hearing, through the Judiciary Committee and convince Democratic Senators to abandon their filibuster.

Doug Kendall, Community Rights Counsel's Executive Director, responded to the new report on Myers stating:

Arlen Specter is a former prosecutor and a good one. He knows more than anyone how important it is to get the facts straight before rushing to judgment. This report raises very serious questions about the operations of the Office of the Solicitor under Mr. Myers. Myers' role in this matter must be fully explored by the Senate Judiciary Committee before any new votes on this nomination.

For background information, click here.


1 Calendar entries, obtained through FOIA, indicate that Myers attended a meeting with Bob Comer, Regional Solicitor, Denver, Colo., to discuss the settlement on Nov. 21, 2002. Additionally, the Inspector General's recent investigation of Myers' dealings with former clients confirms that meeting and at least one other specific occasion on which Myers discussed the agreement with Comer. The IG interviewed both Comer and Myers regarding these meetings, and Comer said in reference to an October 2, 2002, meeting that he "had been working on this settlement since May 2002" and had "occasionally briefed [Myers] on the status of it." Office of the Inspector General, Report of Investigation, PI-NM-03-0309-I (Nov. 24, 2003) at 26. Myers himself described the Nov. 21, 2002 meeting, saying "Comer was the lead attorney from the SOL who was responsible for providing legal advice on the settlement and Comer likely wanted to provide Myers with an update on the status of the pending settlement." Id. at 32. Myers thus clearly had ongoing knowledge of the progress and terms of this unusual settlement agreement.



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