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Campaign Finance Reform Organizations Call on Sen. Cornyn to Recuse Himself from Pryor Nomination Vote

Public Campaign * National Voting Rights Institute * Public Citizen

July 23, 2003

Campaign Finance Reform Organizations Call on Sen. Cornyn to Recuse Himself from Pryor Nomination Vote


Fundraising from Republican Attorneys General Association in Question; Cornyn and Pryor Both Connected to Association’s Fundraising From Corporate Special Interests That Have Matters Before AG Offices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent today, Public Campaign, National Voting Rights Institute and Public Citizen called on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to recuse himself from voting in the pending confirmation hearing for Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor, Jr., who has been nominated by President George W. Bush to the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

At issue are revelations last week that Pryor founded and solicited funds for the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) from corporations with business before the state of Alabama. Cornyn, as Texas Attorney General, played a similar role for RAGA, which has reportedly raised funds from corporations with pending litigation before state attorneys general across the country.

Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee, has staunchly defended the nominee despite the possible conflict of interest. The letter sent by the three nonpartisan reform organizations reads, in part,

“Attorney General Pryor appears to have engaged in questionable fundraising practices with companies that were under investigation by his office, and may have misled the Judiciary Committee about those practices…[You] may have participated in similar fundraising that appeared to pose a conflict of interest with your duties as Texas’ Attorney General. In light of this information, we urge you to recuse yourself from further consideration of the Pryor nomination.

“[It] is likely that you also have raised funds from companies who either had pending regulatory matters before you as Attorney General… It is alleged in the July 17, 2003, edition of the Washington Post, that, like Attorney General Pryor, you were also involved in fund raising on RAGA’s behalf…you were asked to “collect a donation from Shell Oil Company in late 1999… Shell was one of the oil companies that reached a settlement with you as Attorney General over unpaid royalties.

“Senate Judiciary Committee members who must pass recommendations regarding nominees on to their colleagues must meet a high standard to be beyond reproach and above conflicts of interest.”

It is likely that the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up the hearing again soon.

Click here to view a copy of the groups’ letter.