One of Boyle’s former clerks, Washington-based attorney Lars Liebeler, attacks Salon and CIR in a letter to the Washington Times. He also asserts that Boyle sold all his Quintiles stock before presiding over a 2001 Quintiles case – and that Boyle’s accountant confirmed this in a letter made available to all senators. Salon later points out this would mean Boyle made errors on two of his financial disclosure filings, where he reported owning Quintiles in 2001 and selling it in 2002.
CIR reports in Salon that for those conflicts Boyle disputed in his letter, the judge’s explanation contradicts his own financial filings and federal ethics law. One ethics expert says Boyle was “”trying to fudge the language.”
Also, the Raleigh News & Observer quotes Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) as saying that since Boyle has responded to the conflict of interest charges, “At the end of the day, this is a decision Bill Frist and Arlen Specter have to make.” A Frist spokeswoman told the paper that a vote on Boyle has not been scheduled.
Boyle’s letter of explanation to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is made public. Boyle admits to some of the conflicts, calling them inadvertent, minor mistakes. He wrote: “While my stock holdings were relatively insignificant, I regret that the oversight occurred. It certainly was not my intention to participate in a case where I held stock in one of the parties.”
The Raleigh News & Observer reports: “The battle continues between U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Salon.com.” The paper also notes that “Dole, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and others have been pushing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to schedule a floor vote on Boyle, with conservatives hoping Democrats’ opposition will galvanize Republicans months before midterm elections.”
In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Majority Leader Frist and Judiciary Committee Chairman Specter send Boyle’s explanation of his conflicts of interest to fellow senators. In the letter, Frist and Specter write, “If questions are raised about a nominee, the nominee deserves an opportunity to respond. Speculation and conjecture should not unduly influence the perception of a nominee or the confirmation process. For this reason, we sent Judge Boyle a letter inviting him to address conflict of interest allegations and any other matter that merited further explanation or clarification. In his response, Judge Boyle explains and refutes these allegations and puts them into context. We hope this information is helpful as you further consider his nomination. We look forward to working with you to confirm more qualified judicial nominees to the federal bench during this Congress.”
Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon.com, responds to Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s op-ed in the Washington Times: “Salon takes accuracy very seriously, and the record shows that Mrs. Dole’s charges are false…It is up to the Senate to determine whether Judge Boyle’s conflicts of interest disqualify him from a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But Mrs. Dole’s political agenda shouldn’t obscure the fact that Salon reported on Judge Boyle’s record, and the law, accurately.”
Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) writes an op-ed in the Washington Times: “The smear campaign began in earnest last month when the liberalInternetmagazine Salon.com published two articles accusing Judge Boyle of engaging in unethical behavior by participating in cases where he had a supposed financial interest. An examination of these cases, however, shows that any alleged breach by Judge Boyle was inadvertent, minor, and, in a number of instances, totally non-existent.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee puts this statement in the record: “Publicly available documents, including court docket sheets and Judge Boyle’s financial disclosure forms, appear to support the public reports that Judge Boyle ruled in multiple cases in which he held stock in one party…These matters used to be investigated in a bipartisan way. In fact, after these developments were reported in the media, the seven Democratic members in the group that helped avert the Republican “nuclear option” wrote a letter asking for a new hearing to look into the conflict of interest allegations. I regret that the Republican leadership is apparently determined not to allow a bipartisan investigation to be completed and determined not to hold the follow-up hearing.….If this nomination is not withdrawn, and the Republican leadership is determined to move forward with this nomination in response to right-wing pressure groups, issues arising from Judge Boyle’s many alleged conflicts of interest can be best addressed in a hearing, where Senators can ask questions of the nominee, listen to his answers, and assess the credibility of his explanations regarding the conflicts. That is our process. There is no reason to depart from it now.”
Legal Times’ T.R. Goldman quotes an unidentified Senate GOP staff counsel saying, “We found five cases in which there were strict technical violations in which Boyle should have recused himself…But they were administrative oversights. He ruled in over 16,000 cases; these five slipped through the cracks.”
Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter write to Judge Boyle, offering him the “opportunity to respond in writing.” They write, “As you know, questions recently surfaced about your participation in cases in which you may have had a financial interest. We believe you deserve the opportunity to address these issues directly, as well as any other matter that you believe merits further explanation or clarification.”
Also, North Carolina Republican Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr write a “Dear Colleague” letter saying that an examination of the conflicts documented by CIR “shows that any alleged breach by Judge Boyle was inadvertent, minor, and, in a number of instances, totally non-existent. Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Judge Boyle knowingly heard a case in which he had a conflict of interest, used his office for personal gain, or abused the trust of the people he was appointed to serve.”