Who Knew About John Roberts? In 1985, Maybe He Did.

By Jo Becker and Brian Faler
Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. may have had an inkling he was destined for greatness back in 1985 when, working as a young lawyer in the Reagan White House, he wrote a note to a colleague who had reviewed Roberts's files from his time in the Justice Department to see which ones should be sent to the National Archives.

"How fascinating and edifying it must have been for you to review the files I compiled during my service to the attorney general," Roberts wrote. "I assume that the archivist will deposit my files in one of those hermetically sealed display cases that drop into a concrete vault in the event of nuclear attack, similar to the cases housing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Once this is done, I will consider donating my personal papers, at a time to be determined by my tax advisers.

"Just in case you're thinking of it," he added puckishly, "if you plant compromising material in my files I will 'amend' your FBI file with a large bottle of 'white-out.' "

As it happens, government lawyers have found something nearly as effective as Wite-Out correction fluid (people with no memory of the typewriter error should use Google to learn more about this product). Large sections of the Roberts files that have been made public have been heavily redacted with black ink.

Christian Coalition Sued

The Christian Coalition is having a spat with a vendor over unpaid bills. That could be a bad sign for an advocacy group that was once one of the most potent and well-funded forces in conservative politics.

Mailing giant Pitney Bowes is suing the Christian Coalition to recover unpaid postage fees. The firm, which provides postage meters and other services, says that from September 1999 to June 2003, the organization ran up $13,643.44 in charges that it now refuses to pay. When political organizations stop or miss payments for utilitarian necessities such as rent and mail vendors, it sometimes is an indication of deeper trouble with their finances.

A lawyer for the Christian Coalition, Brad Weiss, dismissed such speculation. "It is not unusual for many organizations, both profit and nonprofit, to have disputes with suppliers," he said, adding: "I have no idea what would make this noteworthy."

A lawyer for Pitney Bowes declined to comment on the matter, saying it is being litigated. The coalition, which made a name for itself in the 1980s with its successful direct-mail solicitation program, disputed the company's complaints in documents filed last month in a South Carolina court.

Backing DeLay With Cash

The Bush administration is standing by embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and is making its support known in the most convincing way possible -- with cold cash. Vice President Cheney will appear on the congressman's behalf at a Sept. 16 luncheon in Houston, according to a letter DeLay sent supporters announcing the event. Two tickets, a photo with Cheney, nice seats and something called a "VVIP" reception are going for $12,600. "Sponsors" can get in for $8,400, but won't get priority seating. "Friends" can get one seat and entry to a "VIP" reception -- one V only -- for $2,100.

Staff writer Dana Milbank contributed to this report.

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