On Fox News Sunday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter addressed the Boyle nomination: “Well, I think it does have big problems. When you have a judge who has ruled on cases where there was stock of his own involved, yeah. He has given an explanation, that they were minor, that they were oversights, but there are a number of them. But let’s consider that. Again, it’s a matter of an evaluation and a matter of judgment, but I think that Judge Boyle ought to have an up or down vote in the Senate. Chances are, candidly, Chris, he’ll be filibustered, but so far as I’m concerned, as chairman, I’m going to move them right along one at a time and let the full Senate make its judgment.”
Judge Boyle acknowledged errors on two of his financial disclosure reports, for which his accountant takes the blame, according to public documents received by CIR. In a June 19th letter to the financial disclosure committee of the federal judiciary, Boyle wrote: “It has recently come to my attention that there was an incorrect inclusion of a reference to ‘Quintiles stock’ in my 2001 and 2002 financial disclosure reports.” Boyle presided over a case involving Quintiles in 2001 while reporting stock holdings in the company. But in defending himself against conflict of interest charges, he has denied owning Quintiles stock during that time, contradicting his own financial filings. In explaining the apparent errors, Boyle enclosed a May 30th letter from his accountant, Raymond W. Edwards of RSM McGladrey, Inc. Edwards wrote that despite not remembering or keeping complete notes of the exact situation, Boyle clearly “did not actually own those shares during either of those years.” Edwards attributes the mistake on the 2001 report to a “learning curve” and a confusing entry in a previous report. Edwards says his office reported Boyle’s sale of the stock on June 30, 2002 because by then the accountants had probably realized Boyle did not own the stock and therefore used an arbitrary date to wipe it from the records. Edwards concluded: “It is clear to me that the mistake on both reports was mine.” Multiple examples of Boyle’s conflicts of interest are shown here, with supporting documents here and here.
Before adjourning after midnight for its August recess, the Senate sent the nominations of Judge Boyle and four other controversial judicial nominees back to the President. Bush will have to renominate them or drop them. If the President renominates Boyle when the Senate reconvenes in September, Boyle will still need a Senate floor vote for confirmation. This latest development is a result of a Senate technicality that during long recesses, all nominations must be returned to the President unless there is unanimous consent that they stay pending in the Senate. Though the President can easily just renominate his picks, sending them back to him signals opposition and forces the President to reaffirm his support or reconsider.
Also, frustrated by the lack of Senate action on Boyle and other controversial nominees, a conservative coalition vows to launch an “August Radio Campaign on Judges” to pressure the Republican leadership.
Roll Call’s Erin P. Billings reports that “Senate Republicans, facing a major political battle and a tight legislative calendar, said last week that there’s little chance they can move any of the remaining controversial judicial nominations before the November elections. Both GOP Senators and aides said the four weeks remaining on the pre-election schedule provides them with little opportunity to engage in a potentially brutal floor fight over a polarizing court nominee. The ideal time, they said, would be to consider a nomination now, before the Senate recesses for August and before the campaign season heats up. But that window is all but shut.” The Senate recess is scheduled to begin Aug. 4, ending the day after Labor Day. Billings writes that Boyle “arguably is the most inflammatory appointment” pending now. A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Frist told Roll Call that Frist hopes to move on one of the nominees before November. But, Roll Call reported, “GOP Senate sources said it is perhaps more likely that the nominations would get their day in a post-election lame-duck session. If Republicans lose seats to the Democrats on Nov. 7, they may want to try to use those remaining weeks to try to push one or more of those hopefuls through, recognizing that the task will be much more difficult in January.”
The American Bar Association lowers its rating for Judge Boyle. The ABA committee that rates judicial nominees revoked its unanimous “well qualified” rating. A majority of the ABA committee now rates Boyle “qualified,” while a minority still calls him well qualified, with one abstention.
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.”
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.”