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BUSH'S SUPREME COURT NOMINEE

Miers Donated to Democrats

October 04, 2005|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Harriet E. Miers may be a conservative Republican now, but she wasn't always that way, public records and Texas colleagues say.

In 1987 and 1988, Miers donated $3,000 to Democratic campaign committees -- $1,000 each to the Democratic National Committee, to the reelection campaign of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, and to the presidential campaign of Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee.

Gore cast himself as the most conservative choice in a field of seven Democrats. He lost the Texas primary and the presidential nomination to Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, who went on to lose the general election to George H.W. Bush, the current president's father.

On primary day, March 8, 1988, however, Miers voted in the Republican presidential primary that pitted the elder Bush against television evangelist Pat Robertson and Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, according to Dallas County records. Texas voters do not register by party, and they can vote in either primary.

Since 1991, records show, Miers has donated more than $20,000 to Republican causes -- including $4,000 to George W. Bush's two successful presidential campaigns and $5,000 to the Bush-Cheney recount effort in Florida in 2000 that decided that year's election.

Paul M. Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said some of his fellow conservatives were "up in orbit" about the Gore donation. But Weyrich said he was not troubled by the issue.

"At that time, like many other Texans, she was a Democrat," Weyrich said. "I can't condemn her for that."

Vice President Dick Cheney said in a radio interview that President Bush knew Miers had contributed to Gore's campaign when he nominated her for the Supreme Court.

Cheney said Miers apparently gave the donation because her Dallas law firm was hosting a fundraiser for Gore.

"I'm confident, if you'd worked as closely with Harriet as I have over the last five years, where her heart and her head are," he said.

A prominent Dallas Democrat, former state Rep. Steven D. Wolens, said Miers was never known as a party activist -- on either side.

"I don't remember her being of any party until Bush made her a celebrity when he became governor," he said. "When she was on the City Council, we had no reason to think of her as being either a Republican or a Democrat."

The Dallas City Council, on which Miers served one term from 1989 to 1991, is officially nonpartisan.

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