Miers' slip-ups raise new questions

October 19, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Responding to written Senate questions yesterday, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers failed to list among her former business activities her role as a board member and investor in a for-profit human resources firm formed with her evangelical Christian church's minister and his wife.

In her response she also said that earlier this year, after becoming White House counsel, the D.C. Bar Association suspended her ability to practice in D.C. courts because she didn't pay her bar dues.

The two lapses raise new questions about the image of Miers as a well-organized, meticulous and top-notch attorney, which the White House is using to sell her nomination to skeptical conservatives and liberals.

On failing to list the firm, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino last night said, "It was an inadvertent oversight and she will amend her response with the committee tomorrow."

Senior Justice Department officials said that Miers' slip up on not paying her D.C. Bar dues did not affect her work advising the president.

Miers' omission of Priority Enterprises of New Carrollton, Texas, is notable because she lists it on the financial disclosure forms she filed as a White House official in 2001 and for her public positions in Texas during the 1990s.

Miers was a board member with a beneficial interest in the firm since it was incorporated in June 1979 until 1999, according to her forms and Texas state corporations records.

On the board of directors during the 1980s were Miers, her friend and now Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, as well as her pastor, Ron Key, and his wife, Kaycia, according to James Wimberly, who now owns the firm.

"All of us who were involved were Christians," he said. "We made a pledge to provide 10 percent of profits to charity."

Some of the money went to their church, Valley View Christian Church, said Wimberly. All have since left that church, and records show Miers, Hecht and the Keys no longer are on the firm's board.

Meanwhile, failing to pay bar dues appears unusual for a lifelong bar member who was the first woman bar president for Dallas and Texas. In her response to the Senate, she wrote that when she got a notice she "immediately sent the dues in."

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.