McDermott Loses Suit; Must Pay Boehner $700K

Woe betide the Democrat who violates ethics laws. Especially if he was trying to land a blow on the GOP’s top lawmakers.

In 1996 — that was back when we all used Mosaic browsers on the World Wide Web — Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) leaked to the press an illegally-taped phone call of several GOP lawmakers, including then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

The men were coordinating media strategy for how Gingrich could best weather his ethics problems — after Gingrich had promised the ethics committee not to do just that.

Current House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), then a higher-up in Gingrich’s revolutionary cadre, was on the call, and sued McDermott for violating his privacy rights. (Ironically, Boehner voted for the surveillance-happy Patriot Act in 2002; McDermott voted against it.) McDermott lost the case and appealed; yesterday, he lost the appeal, too.

Now he’s been ordered to pay Boehner $60,000 in damages and over $600,000 to cover Boehner’s legal fees.

And McDermott’s trouble still isn’t over! Roll Call reports the House Ethics Committee is expected — at long last — to create a special subcommittee to investigate him.