WASHINGTON -- January 25 -- Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas requesting an investigation into misrepresentations White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made in a written response to a question posed to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee which is considering Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General.
The complaint alleges that Gonzales inaccurately portrayed his role in appearing before a Texas court when President Bush, then Governor of Texas, was summoned for jury duty. Gonzales has claimed that although he appeared in court with the Governor, he merely observed the defense counsel make a motion to strike the Governor from the jury panel and then when asked by the Judge whether the Governor had any views on this, replied that he did not.
In marked contrast, Michael Isikoff, reporting for Newseek, has written that the defense lawyer, prosecutor and judge involved in the case all recall the incident differently. In their version, Gonzales asked to have an off-the-record conference in the judge's chambers where Gonzales then asked the judge, David Crain, to strike Mr. Bush from the jury, arguing that the Governor might one day be asked to pardon the defendant. Isikoff writes that Judge Crain found Gonzales's argument "extremely unlikely" but out of deference, agreed to allow the motion to strike, which the defense lawyer then made.
CREW's complaint alleges that by misstating the facts surrounding the conversation in the judge's chambers Gonzales may have violated 18 U.S.C. '1001, which makes it a federal crime to make false statements to a congressional committee. The complaint further alleges that Mr. Gonzales has violated two Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure: 8.04(a)(2) which prohibits lawyers from committing crimes that reflect adversely on their honesty or trustworthiness; and 8.04(a)(3) which prohibits lawyers from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, "The marked contrast between the version of events Mr. Gonzales provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the version told by the three other individuals involved -- the prosecutor, the defense lawyer and the judge -- is enough to require the State Bar of Texas to investigate this matter." Sloan continued, "Violations of the bar rules can lead to disbarment. The Senate should delay voting on Mr. Gonzales's nomination until this matter is cleared up or face the prospect of having an Attorney General who has lost his bar license."
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit, progressive legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.