Boehner Attorney Asks McDermott for $880K

Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:28pm

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is seeking $880,000 in legal fees from Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) after the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Boehner earlier this month in the two lawmakers’ lengthy legal battle.

Michael Carvin, a Jones Day attorney representing Boehner, said the amount is “on its face, extremely reasonable for a nine-year litigation,” in a May 15 letter to Christopher Landau, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis law firm, which represents McDermott. Landau did not return a call for comment.

However, in a statement McDermott said he has not ruled out a Supreme Court appeal —his last option in the ongoing legal battle. McDermott further called the Boehner attorney’s letter “unexpected, unsolicited and premature.”

McDermott has about two more months to decide whether to pursue the appeal. “This is a very important case, with significant constitutional issues involved, and for the attorney to the plaintiff to act otherwise is impertinent and unwarranted,” McDermott said.

Since 1998, Boehner and McDermott have been fighting in various courts over whether McDermott unlawfully obtained and leaked an intercepted cell phone call given to him by Florida couple John and Alice Martin on Jan. 8, 1997. The cell phone call involved then-Republican Conference Chairman Boehner, who was in Florida when the call took place, and other members of the House leadership, including then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), discussing how to respond to an impending House ethics committee fine and reprimand of Gingrich.

The D.C. court ruled in May that McDermott was not protected by the First Amendment in this case because he violated House ethics committee rules in the process. McDermott was ranking member on the House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct at the time.

— Susan Davis