Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thin House Ethics Committee Legal Experience

The House Ethics Committee investigation into the House Leadership is starting to smell like the Hewlett-Packard board investigation: A sham, and false start. (Concur: If the House isn't willing to do this right, tell the voters now, and let's do it right when there's a credible crew in place that is serious about leading the country.)

The lead House Ethics Committee Attorney, whose name appears on the released letter, has limited reported cases/experience with government investigations, raising the prospect the investigation itself could become the subject of a broader review.

Ref: Fair warning -- Inadequate information on investigation, adverse inferences.

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It appears as though there is a legal-leadership issue within the House ethics Committee in re William V. O'Reilly Ref


1. Relatively new to House Investigation Committee.

2. His reported cases are between 2004-2006, yet he's been an attorney since 1986 (20 years.)

3. All his reported Federal cases are associated with other counsel; no information we have shows he's independently led a single investigation effort. Rather he's worked with many other counsel in MDL.

4. No reported cases in Virginia; has six (6) reported cases in District Court.

5. All cases involve Anti-Trust; yet he reports:
Bill O'Reilly works primarily in complex litigation in the areas of antitrust, contract and other commercial disputes, and corporate criminal investigations. He also has experience in environmental and government contracts litigation.

This may be true, but the only reported cases are Anti-Trust. What's been going on in the settlement agreements? We have nothing to suggest he does or does not have adequate skills to act as the focal point for this high profile investigation on a government matter.

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Some of His Federal Cases

[ 409 F. Supp. 2d 1275 ] No. 04-MD-1616-JWL, January 18, 2006, Filed

[ 232 F.R.D. 681 ] No. 04-MD-1616-JWL, November 10, 2005, Decided

Sept 2005 [September 29, 2005, Filed; No. 04-MD-1616-JWL-DJW, For Bayer Material Science, LLC, formerly known as Bayer Polymers, LLC, Defendant ]

[ 363 F. Supp. 2d 514 ] 2005 Case.

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This Investigation

Not getting the warm feeling that the "experts" on the House investigation necessarily have the time in place, nor the background to quickly move on this rather high profile case.

Feel free to share your observations, and why you believe this is going in the right direction:

___ Do we have the right legal leadership in place?

___ Are the early signs, in the forms of memoranda, consistent with a well organized effort?

___ Is there a track record of having accomplished similar investigations and leading complex investigations?

___ Is there a track record of having directed many different counsel within a similar government-related investigation?

___ Is the experience of the personnel assigned to the investigation consistent with the type of issues which the Committee now faces?

___ Are there some options to mitigate the risks related to not exploring the common pattern of conduct between (a) the Foley issue; and (b) the war crimes-FISA-9-11 alleged malfeasance in the House leadership?

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A Broader Inquiry Needed

I have no confidence the legal team in place is sufficiently experienced in these issues to organize an effective investigation plan. Although some may have some hidden criminal investigation experience, I fail to see how Anti-trust experience is going to do much for these different issues.

Unless the House Committee makes a visible, immediate shift and moves quickly to more effectively demonstrate they have a credible investigation team in place, the voters should take the initial information as an affront by the House leadership to their oath of office.

Rather than rely on this investigation, the investigation itself should become a secondary target of outside investigators and auditors:

___ When did the House leadership understand the issues related to the inadequacy of the investigation, not just the House leadership;

___ How did the House leadership on the Ethics Committee convince themselves that they had the right people in place to do this investigation

___ What initial concerns related to the investigation, not just the House management issue, were rejected or not reviewed that should have been

___ Were there valid auditing and internal control issues raised from the outset that were rejected

___ How are the early indications from the investigation memoranda, and public statements shedding light on (a) the House leadership; (b) this investigation; and (c) the larger issues of Geneva.

___ Based on the initial feedback of the investigation progress, did the Committee leadership appropriately oversee changes, and adjust?