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Hobson Files Complaint in McDermott Tape Case

Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Ohio) has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) over McDermott’s involvement in the leaking of an illegally taped December 1996 conversation between House GOP leaders.

Details on the nature of Hobson’s ethics filing against McDermott were unavailable at press time, but McDermott and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been involved in a long-running legal battle over the issue.

On Oct. 22, a federal judge ruled that McDermott, who leaked the tape to several newspapers after receiving a copy from a Florida couple, had to pay Boehner $60,000 in damages, plus “reasonable” attorney’s fees. Boehner, who first sued McDermott for leaking the tape in March 1998, has spent more than $500,000 on the case, and his lawyer, Michael Carvin of the firm Jones Day, believes that McDermott will have to cover all of that tab.

On Thursday, McDermott filed an appeal of Judge Thomas Hogan’s ruling, a development that Hogan had anticipated in his Oct. 22 ruling.

Hobson’s office declined to comment on the complaint at press time.

McDermott’s office told U.S. News & World Report on Friday that a complaint had been filed against McDermott, although the statement from the Washington Democrat’s office did not mention Hobson by name, calling him a “colleague” of Boehner.

Hobson and Boehner are close personal friends and have served in the House together since 1990, when the they first won election to Congress.

“The federal court case to which this complaint refers at such length is far from finished. It is now on appeal. We expect the result to be very different, as it has been before,” McDermott’s office said in its statement on the Hobson complaint. “The ethics complaint failed to mention that there are significant First Amendment issues involved; and failed to mention that the U.S. Department of Justice told the U.S. Supreme Court that there were First Amendment Rights at stake. Most importantly, Congressman Boehner’s colleague failed to mention that the U.S. Supreme Court in the past has supported my position. These are all points we will ensure are shared with the House Ethics Committee.”

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