Friday, August 25, 2006

Are we sure of the facts? You make the call.

Anna Diggs Taylor. According to Judicial Watch, there is a possible conflict of interest concerning her recent ruling that our government's warrantless wiretapping is unconstitutional.

According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as Secretary and Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was reelected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a recent grant of $45,000 over two years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision.

According to the CFSEM website, The Foundation's trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis.

This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation, said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment

And this isn't the only case under scrutiny:

(Judge Diggs Taylor is also the presiding judge in another case where she may have a conflict of interest. The Arab Community Center for Social and Economic Services (ACCESS) is a defendant in another case now before Judge Diggs Taylor's court [Case No. 06-10968 (Mich. E.D.)]. In 2003, the CFSEM donated $180,000 to ACCESS.)

Read the rest of the article here.

Here are the facts we know, after doing several hours of research:

Anna Diggs Taylor, on her 2003 and 2004 Financial Disclosure Statements, states that she is both secretary and a trustee of CFSEM (Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan).
2003 Statement
2004 Statement

It has been stated that she may not have had a vote, but we think it is clear that she did, as she sits on the Board, and CFSEM itself has this to say - "The Foundation's trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis." also noted in the report from Judicial Watch.

The HOPE Fund (involved in the gay/lesbian community) is listed on their (CFSEM) grants page. On page 3 of the list of grants through HOPE Fund, the ACLU of Michigan is listed as receiving a total of $45,000 for two things- 1) To hire a lawyer for family law issues, and 2) support for some GLBT project.

It appears the judge is once removed because she is not on the board of the HOPE Fund, but is on the board of CFSEM, the organization that gave money to the HOPE Fund, who in turn gave $45,000 to the ACLU.

But wait ... there is one more thing that we have found, and it is this - Within CFSEM's guidelines for grantmaking, specifically for the HOPE Fund, we read the following: The HOPE Fund is a targeted grantmaking program of the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan that provides grants and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in southeast Michigan.

Hmmmm. This gets more interesting, doesn't it?

Now, where her issues come into play are within the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges. Within Canon #5, it says: A JUDGE SHOULD REGULATE EXTRA-JUDICIAL ACTIVITIES TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF CONFLICT WITH JUDICIAL DUTIES.

Feel free to read the rest for yourself. It's very interesting.

So, either she did not disclose the fact that she knew money she had a vote in was earmarked for the ACLU, OR she did not reevaluate the organizations she is involved in, in order to learn where money was actually going, thus leaving herself wide open to a conflict of interest. Considering the fact that the HOPE Fund is a TARGETED GRANTMAKING PROGRAM OF THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN, it is very likely that Judge Diggs Taylor did, indeed, know what that money was going to be used for, that part of it was going to the ACLU.

Did she know? You make the call.

In other news:

Our phone call and email last week to Melissa Hart concerning Pennsylvania Earmarks remain unanswered. No explanation has been given as to why that is, but we are not pleased with the lack of response. We want answers and information from our rep.

Melissa Hart, are you sponsoring any of the earmarks in Pennsylvania, and if so, why is your name not publicly attached to them? These are valid questions, ones we have a right and a duty to ask, and we deserve answers BEFORE the vote occurs in September.

Voters are waiting to hear from you.

As a reminder, you can go to Sunlight Foundation to see what this is all about.


At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Cliff said...

Your good on the homework. Everybody else is foaming at the mouth and humiliating themselves. Your blog is a loud voice of reason.

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Maryl said...

Your last commenter is right. Your blog has a reasonable voice. Thanks for the work you guys did on this post.


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