Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gary Miller pleads his innocence

Following up on Rep. Gary Miller's suspicious land deals, he pleaded his case to fellow Republicans this week.

Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) passionately pleaded his innocence before GOP colleagues at a closed-door conference meeting Tuesday, nearly a week after several media outlets reported that the FBI is looking into his land deals.

Miller told colleagues that the press and Democrats had launched a smear campaign against him, singling out The Hill and the Los Angeles Times as perpetrators, as well as a former Democratic mayor of the Southern California city of Monrovia, Lara Larramendi Blakely, who now works for Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), according to GOP sources.

Ah, yes, the old "media smear job" defense....

So far, so unconvincing. He'll have to rebut the actual claims rather than attacking the messenger -- though to be fair, he might have done so and we just don't know it.

The comments came during an open-mic session at the end of a meeting designed as a discussion on House Republicans’ strategic plans to regain the majority in 2008, which were first laid out during a GOP retreat held the weekend of Jan. 24.

Before Miller spoke, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) noted that defining an ethics strategy is critical to winning back the majority and that members need to hold each other accountable, sources said.

The good news is the GOP knows they need to set some standards. The bad news is that Boehner is thus far letting Miller keep his seat on the Finance Committee's Oversight and Investigations panel, which oversees the IRS among other things. Considering the stories about Miller involve tax evasion, maybe that's not such a good idea.

Here's an additional revelation I didn't know about:

Since March of last year, The Hill has reported on various land deals involving Miller, including one in which he worked with Lewis to insert an earmark in the 2005 federal highway bill that shut down an airport in the Southern California city of Rialto. Even before the airport was shut down through the earmark, Miller’s business partner and top campaign contributor, Lewis Operating Corp., had an exclusive deal with the city to develop the airport land into a planned community consisting of 2,500 homes, parks and 80 acres of retail space.

Yeah, that looks good.

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