If anyone doubted which side of the political aisle is playing dirty in the fight over federal judicial nominees, he hasn't read about the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League's mission to dig up financial and other dirt against 30 sitting federal appellate judges.
Columnist Bob Novak unveiled the story in his May 16 column, reporting that a California political consulting firm requested the financial records of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Edith Jones and 29 other "appellate judges in all but one of the country's judicial circuits, including nine widely mentioned Supreme Court possibilities." According to Novak, such a mass request for disclosure by federal judges is unprecedented.
But what makes this more interesting is that one of the partners in the consulting firm is Craig Varoga, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Should we assume complicity on Reid's part?
Until I hear him denouncing this outrage, I'll presume he's supportive of it. With his consistent pugnaciousness and pettiness in these Senate skirmishes and his recent demeaning reference to President Bush as a "loser" before high school students, we now know Reid's not the mild-mannered public servant he pretends to be.
Don't forget, also, that Reid recently smeared by innuendo one of the president's appellate court nominees when he suggested that very damaging information existed in the judge's confidential FBI file.
And Reid has the audacity to lecture Republicans about a so-called "nuclear option" when his former associate and his current constituency groups are engaged in this kind of wholesale privacy invasion against federal judges?
Do you think it's even possible there is something suspicious about all 30 judges prompting an investigation into their financial records? Could it be any more obvious that we are witnessing a Larry Flynt-style fishing expedition?
Can you imagine the chilling effect this could have on federal judges? Many doubt the dirt hunt is limited to the judges' public records. Judicial Confirmation Network counsel Wendy E. Long said: "It's clear that Sen. Reid's former communications director, who now runs a left-wing political research firm, has not been hired by NARAL simply to obtain public records. You don't hire an expensive political research firm to do what the Senate Democratic staff can easily do."