Why Would Orrin Hatch Need a Defense Fund?

Via CREW, CQ has an article on the Members of Congress who have legal defense funds. Most of those listed make sense–there have active legal battles that they’re going to have to pay for:

Jim McDermott: John Boehner’s successful lawsuit holding McDermott responsible for leaking a secretly taped conversation among Republican Congressmen

John Kerry: His ongoing battle with the Swiftboaters

Corrine Brown, FL: (This one I don’t know)

William Jefferson: the $90,000 in the freezer

John Doolittle: Abramoff

Phil English: Lawsuits and other potential legal problems

Tom Feeney: Abramoff

And then there are Orrin Hatch and Brad Miller, both of whom have legal funds that haven’t accepted any donations this year (though Miller’s has paid out some money to a law firm).

Now, Orrin’s legal defense fund looks like it has long been inactive. It appears he has it just sitting there, in case he’ll ever need it. So why is he keeping it around?

And while we’re asking questions, you think Charlie Rangel might explain why he donated $10,000 to Jefferson’s legal defense fund? Or, even more curiously, why Orrin Hatch donated $10,000 to Doolittle? Is this just African-American and Mormon solidarity, respectively?

  1. Rayne says:

    Likely yes. Members of minority groups often “circle up the wagons” for protection at what seems like odd times to majority groups. This process sometimes involves paybacks for past behavior. My guess is Rangel owed Jefferson for a vote somewhere, and paying back now is twice as valuable as paying back where there’s little pressure.

    Could be the same thing with Hatch-Doolittle, but it’s far more difficult to see the Mormons as a minority group.

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m wondering if the $10,000 works the same as magic underwear, this kind of solidarity/tithe/secret clothing that keeps them all in line.

        As to Hatch’s defense fund–it goes back at least to 2001.

    • phred says:

      Rayne — that’s true, but this isn’t just a minority activity, look at all of Scooter’s and Gonzo’s pals ponying up for their legal defense funds.

      Personally EW, I wouldn’t make too much of Rangel’s and Hatch’s contributions (at least not yet). These guys work together and donated to chums on the same side of the aisle. It could be just out of friendship, or perhaps a bit of whistling past the graveyard.

  2. wavpeac says:

    I have never left a ZED!! on fdl before…cause I never was able to get there first. I also have pondered whether such a comment is worth it. But here I am, on fdl, on E.W blog…too cool.

    So,E.W when did his legal defense fund begin…2003 by any chance?? Just wondering. I wonder if he started worrying about lawyering up at the same time as Dick and George?

    Or did he get it going at about the time the fisa stuff started ratcheting up?

    There, a question…not as mindless as a zed…

    Change is always a bit of a challenge but I am excited for you E.W…and I am just very glad that I get to keep reading your posts…and hope all those folks from TNH…will follow because it was wonderful in depth reading over there.

    Too late for my first fdl ZED! I noticed someone beat me…foiled again.

  3. Leen says:

    Interesting. The web is wide. EW tomorrow morning The Diane Rehm show will be focused on the NIE report.

    Over at Firedoglake Scarecrow wrote that the neocons are a “lost cause”. I do not believe this is the case at all. They are all ready spinning the NIE report, they are not going to back down, they have one year to have their way with Iran. We are going to hear more and more about the IED’s, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization (we can give credit to Senator Clinton and the others who voted for the Kyl Liebermann amendment). These radicals will not back down. Facts do not matter

  4. Glorfindel says:

    I rarely post here, being among my betters and happy to feast on the in-depth analysis laid out with such abundance and, um…factual accuracy, I just want to note how soothing is the very notion of Orrin Hatch’s need of a legal defense fund at all. (sigh)

    • emptywheel says:

      Thank you. One of the advantages of moving into your own digs is that you get to decorate yourself.

      Now if I can only convince mr. emptywheel into letting me decorate our home…

  5. wavpeac says:

    I got kind of worried when Rove did his “blame the dems for the Iraq” war thing. This is the technique they have used. My concern was whether or not it works to tell the “believers” exactly what they want to hear. I think Rove truly understands the “authoritarian mind” and understands that all they need is “rationalizations”, they don’t need facts. They need an authority figure they respect saying “it’s not our fault we went to war, those lousy dems made us”.

    Authoritarians buy in, just like a prejudice person picks up on a small detail involving a minority and take it all the way to town… Rove knows this and uses it. He knows the key is news coverage and that it doesn’t matter whether or not the statements are refuted. The only thing that authoritarians understand…(and clearly this country has more of them than in the past, more than we realize) is a big smackdown..it has to come in the form of a total utterly humiliating loss. This is why impeachment should have occurred, the impeachment itself is enough for many authoritarians…to see it as failure…Clinton was impeached, that was bad, he is bad. They respond to that stuff…and a certain percentage would have vacated the support of the republicons…for the smack down an impeachment inguiry would have cause.

    I hope we can still get to the smack down…it’s a necessity to win the election…we have to make sure that the authoritarians do not vote in a block against a dem candidate…impeachment would put a little bit of a dent in that number.

    Anyway, this is the technique…minimize, deny and blame. It works really well. People looking for a rationalization will find one.

    • Leen says:

      How can anything that comes out of Roves mouth be listened to or believed? What the hell do one of these lying sacks of warmongering shits have to do for the American public to stop giving them the time of day let alone not lock their yellow bellied, lilly white traitor asses up?

      Put an apple in Karl’s lying mouth and roast him.

    • marksb says:

      I’ve been thinking about Rove’s crazy blame-the-Dems-for-Iraq statement…I’m wondering if he’s toast in political circles (having persoanlly guided Mr. sub-30%), his phone calls aren’t being returned and he’s not getting any meetings, and maybe acting f’ing crazy on the TeeVee is all he’s got left. Throw a crazy-assed lie out there and see if it gets traction in the press so he can get a few meetings. Think of his personality: he’s the left hand of God (in his mind) for umpteen years and now he’s sitting at home watching Oprah and waiting for his Blackberry to buzz. Sad.

      • BlueStateRedHead says:

        Good thought. One indicator would be the public lecture and republican $1000 rubber chicken circuits. We hear about Gonzo lecturing at 40k a pop. where is rove a-roving, if at all.
        But he is not spending time “watching Oprah”; he’s visiting with his son at his university.

      • bmaz says:

        Because Mormons always need a place to hoard things for the future? I’ve got no idea, BCCI is just the only thing I could come up with. For being such a stick in the mud, Hatch is relatively clean on the scandal/crime beat.

        • MadDog says:

          Remember all the reports that Hatch had “daily” conversations with Fredo while he was AG. I posit that Orrin was really running the DOJ given that Fredo was way, way over his head and underwater the whole time.

          So that would mean Hatch was hatchin’ all those perversions of law and order like Warrantless eavesdropping signoffs, ASA firings, OLC Torture memos, etc.

          This also comports with the lead up to the new AG nomination that Orrin’s name was near the top of the list. Junya thought that since Orrin was running the DOJ undercover, he might as well step up and do it openly.

          And of course, Orrin said Nyet. AGs come and go, but being a Senator of Utah is forever.

          • leinie says:

            And of course, Orrin said Nyet. AGs come and go, but being a Senator of Utah is forever.

            MadDog, Orrin’s got his sights set a little higher than AG – he wants to be a Supreme. I think he figured being the end of the disaster that is the DOJ hasn’t a good resume builder for that – as you say, his re-election is certain, and he’ll stay and judiciary where the collegial Senate system should guarantee no blocking of him nom, if he gets the nod.

          • bmaz says:

            Maybe, I dunno though. That would only account for the time since January 2005, when Ashcroft left. Hatch’s fund had been open for long before that. Hatch opened his fund for something long ago and has simply left it open. My guess is why not; once it is established you never have to do that again, just leave it inactive until you need it and if you never do, close it out when you leave.

            Lienie – Hatch is never going to get an appointment to the Supremes; ain’t gonna happen. In the first place, with any luck, there will be a Democratic Administration for at least the next 8 years. Even if not, however, Hatch is too old to get a nomination. The Gooper want young nominees that can change the court to their liking for decades; they will never appoint somebody as old as Hatch.

  6. Ishmael says:

    EW – I feel that I must once more step into the breach and defend legal defence funds! I don’t think it is unusual for a Senator to have a legal defence fund set up, even if you are squeaky-clean or have no ongoing litigation, you are always vulnerable to frivolous or vexatious claims – (Whitewater? Travelgate?) that could require expensive legal counsel to be retained quickly – kind of like having director’s liability insurance. Although Hatch as a good Rethug doesn’t have to worry about a Utah Project like the Clintons did with the Arkansas Project.

  7. leinie says:

    EW, does Larry Craig have a defense fund? And is Hatch donating to that?

    I don’t have your mind for details, but didn’t Hatch have a connection to the improper hirings at DOJ, and slipping things into legislation in the middle of the night? Don’t see how he could have broken the laws there, but I remember thinking at the time that it was sleezy, and my contempt for Hatch is only exceeded by my contempt for HoJo.

  8. Leen says:

    OT Go check out what Larry Johnson over at No Quarter Usa is referring to as Blowback in regard to the NIE at the National Review. There are two articles one by Micheal ” go kill some more innocent people faster please” Ledeen and Victor Hanson. Not sure how to link here now.

  9. emptywheel says:


    Unlike the several other times you’ve set me straight on this point, I’m not complaining about them here. Defense funds–with transparency–are all well and good, for the reasons you mention. What I object to are defense funds without such transparency, because the intended recipient (Libby, AGAG) have left govt. There’s just too much room for abuse if there’s no transparency.


    Craig does not have a defense fund.

    Hatch was central to sticking teh AG APpoint clause into PATRIOT. His former aide and UT’s current USA, Brent Tolman, was the guy who put it in PATRIOT. But I doubt that warrants a defense fund. also, remember, this is inactive, so probably not related to anything on our current horizon.

    • leinie says:

      Craig does not have a defense fund.

      Which is kind of odd, but I think the Statesman reported over the weekend that he was using his re-election coffers to pay for his legal bills, since he didn’t need them any longer.

      On Hatch, I already consider you a goddess, but if you could sniff out provable malfeasance by that ratbastard, I’d have to find new heights to elevate you to. I really don’t like that guy.

  10. Peterr says:

    To answer the question posed in your title, I think Mitch McConnell is quietly making that a job requirement for every GOP member of the Senate: “We’re all guilty here, so you better be ready for it when you walk in the door every morning.”

  11. Rayne says:

    So your boy is in the White House and your team holds an unassailable majority in both houses of Congress and your chief cook-and-bottlewasher has all along said they had “teh math”…

    Why would Hatch need a defense fund in 2001?

    Excellent point, EW.

    Annoys me that we’ll have to take so many excursions to the past as we forge ahead…

  12. marksb says:

    Yeah, sure. I get one weekend a year to hang with my daughter at Earlham College. She loves me and her friends welcome me warmly, but it’s pretty clear that I shouldn’t let the door hit me in the ass on my way to the Dayton airport.

    No, I’m wondering if Rove is actually Jodi. I can’t help but notice that before Rove left his WH office, Jodi would post mid or late in the thread. After he left, Jodi was suddenly getting first post. Haven’t seen any trolls around the new digs yet…

  13. emptywheel says:


    Oh, the real and the imposter Jodi are here. I’ve left a comment wondering what to do with them in the most recent post.

    But real Jodi, at least, doesn’t seem to be geographically Rove.

  14. JohnLopresti says:

    Remember the heat of 2005 and the fork in the Frist road to candidacy for presidency or simply retiring from the senate. Frist let Manuel Miranda work for him for a while to tout magniloquent ethics in 2004. In 2003 the seargeant at arms had a standoff with Hatch over Miranda’s work for Hatch; ostensibly supervisor Hatch was uninformed of Miranda’s purloining Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats’ emails during the Democrats’ first solid stands against some backward nominations hailing down from the administration for SJC to vet. Here is a June 2004 retrospective. But, how about the energy corridor business?
    Though I wonder if the Nixon library trove revealed for the first time to the public last month 178,000pp had any early materials on Hatch’s career, Reagan being a link there; need to research that story, as well.