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  1. #1
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    Feb 2005
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    Texas: Miers got too much for land

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...510230510/1012

    Texas: Miers got too much for land

    State against deal for family's property; her firm had donated to the presiding judge

    By Jack Douglas Jr. and Stephen Henderson

    WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.

    The windfall came after a judge who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm appointed a close professional associate of Miers' and an outspoken property-rights activist to the three-person panel that determined how much the state should pay.

    The resulting six-figure payout to the Miers family in 2000 was despite the state's objections to the "excessive" amount and to the process used to set the price. The panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for land that was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot.

    Mediation efforts in 2003 reduced the award from $106,915 to $80,915, but Miers, who controls the family's interest in the land, hasn't reimbursed the state for the $26,000 difference.

    The case raises new questions about Miers' judgment at a time when her nomination is troubled by doubts about her qualifications for the nation's highest court and accusations that she was chosen mostly because of her close friendship with President Bush.

    Nothing indicates that Miers sought out the judge or engineered the appointments to the panel, but there's also no indication that she reported the potential conflicts of interest in the case or tried to avoid them.
    The three-member committee that determined the price included Peggy Lundy, a friend of Miers, and property-rights activist Cathie Adams. They were appointed to the panel by state District Judge David Evans, who had received at least $5,000 in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm.
    Supreme Court justices, unlike other government officials, define potential conflicts of interest for themselves and are responsible for policing their own ethics.

    A White House spokesperson said that the money her family must repay the state is being held in an account in her mother's name. The funds will be released when the settlement papers are finalized.

    The land is owned by Miers' mother, Sally. But court documents granted Harriet Miers authority to represent her mother's interests in the case, and all the paperwork was sent to Miers' law office.

    The condemnation case in Dallas began in April 1999, after the Miers family rejected the state's initial offer of $5,900 for a half-acre of their land and a subsequent offer of $27,000.

    Miers' father purchased the land in west Dallas after World War II. The market value for the entire 18.74-acre lot, according to state tax records, was $244,890. It is vacant and brush-covered.


    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

  2. #2
    tommywho70x Guest

    Re: Texas: Miers got too much for land

    What's the big deal? This is Texas, after all.

    She should be commended and not villified for pulling off a profitable boondoggle at taxpayer's expense.

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