Rove thanks Republican lawyers for their work on 'clean elections'

Published: Monday April 10, 2006

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In a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association in Washington last Friday, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove thanked its members for their "work on clean elections," RAW STORY has found.

"I want to thank you for your work on clean elections," Rove said. "I know a lot of you spent time in the 2004 election, the 2002, election, the 2000 election in your communities or in strange counties in Florida, helping make it certain that we had the fair and legitimate outcome of the election."

Rove then suggested that some elections in America were similiar to third world dictatorships.

"We have, as you know, an enormous and growing problem with elections in certain parts of America today," Rove said. "We are, in some parts of the country, I'm afraid to say, beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where they guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored sunglasses. I mean, it's a real problem, and I appreciate that all that you're doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the ballot -- the integrity of the ballot is protected, because it's important to our democracy."

Also in attendance on Friday was Mark "Thor" Hearne, the National General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. and also the Executive Director of the non-partisan American Center for Voting Rights, which Brad Blog described as "a Republican front group created by high-level GOP operatives expressly for the purpose of spreading disinformation to sidetrack the Election Reform movement in this country."

"I ran into Thor Hearne as I was coming in," Rove said. "He was leaving; he was smart, and he was leaving to go out and enjoy the day."

Other excerpts from Rove's speech:


I also appreciate all that you've done in our campaigns in the past. I know that for some of you it's meant your partners have been swept away to serve in the government, but don't worry, they'll be back with enhanced reputations and the ability to bill even bigger hours. And we really appreciate what you all have done on our judges. To think that this president has appointed 27 percent of the members of the federal judiciary, and most -- most of all, that he has been able to appoint such terrific individuals to the U.S. Supreme Court. John Roberts and Sam Alito will serve for decades with distinction and integrity, and it's going to be really -- (applause).


Now, we've got to find a way to control this, because it is undermining our health care system. You see it also -- there's a moral dimension to this as well. Take a look at asbestos. There are approximately 600,000 claimants -- that's fewer than a quarter of the estimated total -- have filed suit. But non-malignant claims comprise almost 90 percent of the claims, and almost two-thirds of the compensation awards. So people who aren't sick are 90 percent of the claims and two-thirds of the money. It's cost tens of thousands of jobs through the bankruptcies of at least 70 asbestos-related firms.

I met with a guy who bought a company that happened to have the same name as a company that in the '20s and '30s was involved in asbestos. Two different companies, but they had vaguely the same- sounding name. The guy said, "I have to pay a lawyer 1,200 (dollars) to $2,500 many times a year -- six, seven, eight, nine times a year -- in order to file the papers to get me out of a lawsuit where I'm being captured because the name of the company that I purchased, that has nothing to do with asbestos, has as name vaguely like another company. I met a guy from Louisiana; he makes industrial cooling units that go on the top of plants. In those customized units, there is one screw that goes into one holder in the threads, of which there is asbestos. And the guy says, "Look, I'm getting sued left and right." They screw it in at the plant, you know? And they did so not knowing that there was asbestos in the threading. But the guy says, "I'm paying -" he said, "My insurance company's paying it. I'm paying out 10 (thousand dollars) and $22,000 a whack, plus legal fees, on each of these cases." And he said, "I cannot get coverage. When my coverage runs out, I'm not going to be able to get any more coverage. I can't get money at the bank because I'm too big a risk. I've got a business that could grow; we're making money. But I can't grow the business because of the economic conditions that we face here." How fair is that?

You know, you see it in Texas. I saw it in my home state. There are 44,000 asbestos claims filed by Alabamians in Jefferson County, Texas. Why is it that all the counties that tend to be litigation problems -- Madison County, Illinois; Jefferson County, Texas -- why are they all named (after) the founders? (Laughter.) The founders deserve better that that.


Thank you for what you do as a member of this important group. Thank you for helping to do what you do to ensure that we have fair and honest elections. Thank you for doing what you do to recommend good justices and to give up members of your organization to serve. I cannot imagine a more difficult and demanding job than being a judge. I'm not a lawyer, but I've worked around a lot of judges since 1988 in the Texas Supreme Court and the Alabama Supreme Court, and I see these remarkable men and women -- my friend John Cornyn, Priscilla Owen, Tom Phillips -- who gave up, really, the best years of their legal careers when they could have been bringing in the big paychecks and having a lot of billing hours and enjoying the practice of law and instead taking huge pay cuts in order to serve as judges in our system, and it really gives me a great deal of pride that our government and our country can still call on the talents of men and women to make sacrifices like that.