Everywhere you look in the Harriet Miers’ GTECH story, there are signs of corruption. Even worse, the corruption is bipartisan.

Why would George Bush want to nominate the only person in the world who would open up the Texas Lottery scandals and the question of whether Ben Barnes used political influence to get him into the Texas Air National Guard? By nominating Miers, Bush called an artillery strike on his own position, something we doubt he learned in the National Guard.

Ben Barnes is a Democrat, and even a casual search of the Federal Election Commission’s online database shows he has contributed generously to Sens. Kennedy, Schumer and Leahy – all three on the Judiciary Committee.

Has Barnes been calling Kennedy, Schumer and Leahy, asking them not to subpoena him? He has plenty to keep under cover, including the pre-sentencing report federal prosecutors in New Jersey presented in the case of convicted felon J. David Smith, GTECH’s national sales manager, who according to the prosecutors was involved in a $500,000 kickback scheme with Barnes. Grilling a witness who is a major campaign contributor does not come natural for most politicians.

Barnes also has contributed heavily to Democratic presidential hopefuls including Sens. Kerry and Clinton. This was one of Barnes’ problems when he first surfaced in the Dan Rather story about the National Guard. Ben Barnes was such a prominent Kerry backer he made Rather’s story look completely partisan, even though Barnes evidently had told the same story under oath when Larry Littwin was fired as Lottery director, because he wanted to investigate political influence peddling, as well as put the GTECH contract to competitive bid.

CBS was obsessed with Bush-hatred. That’s the only explanation for why anyone would forge documents. The story of the Bush National Guard cover-up was always right there, hidden in plain view, as Edgar Allan Poe would remind us.

Then, sometime before 1997, somebody wrote an anonymous letter to U.S. Attorney Dan Mills in Austin, Texas, revealing the ties between George Bush, Ben Barnes, GTECH, the Texas Lottery Commission and how George Bush used influence to get into the Texas Air National Guard. The letter mentioned Reggie Bashur, who at that time was George Bush’s chief of staff. The anonymous writer claimed that Bashur made a deal with Barnes that Gov. Bush would not allow the GTECH contract to be opened to competitive bid as long as Barnes kept quiet about having used influence to get Bush in the National Guard. Anonymous letters are always suspect. Still, when GTECH decided to hire Bashur as yet another high paid lobbyist, eyebrows are raised.

The letter also named Robert Spellings, claiming that he was talking about the National Guard story, making “a lot of people nervous.”

Who is Robert Spellings? He was chief of staff for Ben Barnes both from 1966 to1968 when Barnes was speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and again from 1969 to 1973 when Barnes was lieutenant governor of Texas. He then turns up in Washington, married to Margaret Spellings, who President Bush swore in as secretary of education in January. More cronyism?

At the swearing-in ceremony, Bush commented:


I have known Margaret for a long time, before we both came to Washington. When I was governor of Texas, she was a senior advisor for education, and at the White House she has been my senior domestic policy adviser. For more than 10 years, she’s been right down the hall or by my side, and now I look forward to having her take her seat in the Cabinet Room.

Sound familiar? Bush said virtually the same thing when he nominated Harriet Miers. He also mentioned Robert Spellings at the swearing-in ceremony, saying “I’ve known her husband for a while.”

For some reason, the president left out the part about Spellings having served as chief of staff for Ben Barnes, the gentleman Dan Rather had on camera during the 2004 presidential campaign, explaining tearfully how he had made a great mistake trying to get the young Bush into the Guard ahead of so many men who were on the list, some of whom ended up in Vietnam.

Everywhere we look there’s another skeleton. GTECH, the Rhode Island company running the Texas Lottery, was formed in 1981 and backed by some of Bush’s biggest financial backers in Texas – none other than the Bass brothers and their money manager, Richard Rainwater.

Just go to any Internet search engine and type in “Spectrum 7” or “Harken Oil” and you will find tons of left-wing bloggers claiming that Richard Rainwater is the major reason George Bush is a multi-millionaire. Rainwater allegedly put up the money to buy out Bush’s debt-ridden oil company, Spectrum 7, during the 1985-1986 crisis when the price of oil fell to $9 a barrel.

Then, according to the Bush-hating bloggers, Rainwater was the angel who funded Harken Energy to drill in Bahrain. Oh yes, Rainwater also evidently put up a good chunk of the $86 million needed to purchase the Texas Rangers. Bush-bashers then note that the future president’s contribution to the baseball deal was some $500,000 that he borrowed from a bank he had once directed.

The person who vetted Harriet Miers at the White House should be fired for incompetence. But, then, the person who vetted Miers was Bush himself. The White House needs to get serious about withdrawing the Harriet Miers nomination before the Senate confirmation hearings turn into a debacle.

Previous columns:

‘Miers fix’ is on in Texas

Charges against Miers firm next shoe to fall?

Miers meant to ‘keep lid’ on lottery scandals

Is Miers firm under criminal investigation?

Larry Littwin: George Bush’s John Dean

Miers protected money launderer?

Did payment to Miers’ firm violate law?

Ronnie Earle linked to Miers-run lottery

Were winners cheated on Miers’ watch?

Harriet Miers enabled abusive tax shelters?

Harriet Miers contributed to Hillary’s election in 2000

Was Harriet Miers asleep at the helm?

How Miers’ law firm helped defraud investors

Federal crimes, GTECH and influence peddling

Harriet Miers at center of investment fraud

Cover-up deep in the heart of Texas

Is Harriet Miers ‘Unfit for Judging’?

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