Senators are asking Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to provide more information about her role as a lawyer for President Bush's 1998 Texas gubernatorial campaign, for which her firm was paid $140,000.
In answering a Judiciary Committee questionnaire this week, Miers mentioned her legal roles in Bush's first gubernatorial campaign, in 1994, and in his 2000 campaign for president. But she did not mention the 1998 gubernatorial reelection campaign, for which her firm was paid far more than the $7,000 it received in 1994, according to a review of campaign records by the Associated Press.
The questionnaire asked Miers to describe "services rendered, whether compensated or not, to any political party, election committee or transition team." The committee's Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on Wednesday asked Miers to provide more information on several items, including her "political activities."
According to the AP, records at the Texas Ethics Commission show that Bush's 1998 gubernatorial campaign committee paid $140,000 to Miers's Dallas law firm, Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. The 1994 Bush campaign paid the firm $7,000, and it received $16,000 between March and December 1999, a year in which the newly reelected governor was preparing his presidential bid.
"I've never seen that kind of money spent on a campaign lawyer," Randall B. Wood, a partner in the Austin firm Ray, Wood and Bonilla, and former director of Common Cause of Texas, told the AP. The White House said the legal fees to Miers's firm were for routine campaign work.
Meanwhile, Miers's former firm and the State Bar of Texas yesterday gave an explanation of why her bar membership was once suspended briefly over her unpaid annual dues. Miers's membership in the D.C. Bar was also suspended for nearly two months last year because she was late in paying dues.
Jerry K. Clements, head of the litigation section and a member of the management board of the firm -- now known as Locke Liddell & Sapp -- said that during the 1980s the firm's accounting department took over responsibility for paying the lawyers' annual dues as members of the Texas bar. In 1989, three years before Miers would become the state bar's president, the accounting staff inadvertently omitted the dues for Miers and two other lawyers when it sent that year's payment to the clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas on May 25, just before the June 1 deadline.
Kim Davey, a spokeswoman for the Texas bar, said that a reminder notice was mailed that July 1 to all lawyers with delinquent dues. But the omission at Miers's firm was not noticed, Davey said, until after a suspension notice was sent Sept. 1. The firm made a payment two weeks later, and her membership was reinstated retroactively, on Sept. 26.
"This is purely administrative oversight, and no fault of Ms. Miers," Clements said.