Court backs Boehner in McDermott suit

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) has lost his latest attempt to end a lawsuit filed by House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) over a phone call illegally taped 10 years ago.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday ruled in Boehner’s favor. In a divided opinion, the court let a previous ruling stand that would have McDermott pay $60,000 in damages to Boehner as well as attorney fees and costs.

By press time, McDermott’s office did not comment on whether the congressman would file an appeal.

In 1996, McDermott distributed an illegally taped phone conference among House GOP members who were discussing how to deal with an ethics investigation against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Boehner at that time was the chairman of the House Republican Conference, and McDermott was the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee.

The phone call was intercepted on a police scanner by a Florida couple, who delivered it to McDermott. The couple, John and Alice Martin, pleaded guilty to intercepting the call.