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McDermott liable in call taping case

Wed., May 2, 2007

WASHINGTON – A decade-long feud between Reps. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., appeared to end in Boehner’s favor Tuesday when a court ruled McDermott liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees over an illegally taped conference call he leaked to reporters.

In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the offense was especially egregious because McDermott was a senior member of the House ethics panel at the time.

The case stretches back to December 1996, when a couple using a police scanner illegally taped a cell phone conference call between House Republican leaders discussing ethics allegations against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. The couple gave the tape to McDermott, who turned it over to news outlets.

The ruling upheld an earlier court decision assessing $60,000 in damages against McDermott and making him liable for more than $600,000 of Boehner’s legal fees.

McDermott, who represents a district encompassing most of Seattle and Vashon Island, hinted that he may pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court.


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