AG Nathan To Councilmembers: Quit Torturing Me
What is up with all these letter wars going on with D.C. politicians? Don't they know that the in thing these days are Twitter fights?
First, there's the war of words between Mayor Vince Gray and Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown (and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh) over Gray's decision to pocket veto a delayed implementation of a municipal bond tax. Now Attorney General Irv Nathan just sent a mocking letter to Cheh and Councilmember David Catania comparing them to former President George W. Bush after they penned a nasty note to Nathan calling him a hack for issuing a legal opinion that cleared Chief Financial Officer Nat Gandhi of failing to collect millions in commercial property taxes. (Phew, that was a long sentence.)
Apparently, you did not like our opinion, since it did not accord with your pre-conceived notions. By letter dated August 4, 2011, co-signed by the two of you, you ask that we give you a new opinion letter restating your views as ours. In other words, as a famous wit once said: "When I want your opinion, .. .I'll tell you what it is."
More seriously, this is precisely the problem that many of us perceived about the torture memos produced by the Office of Legal Counsel ofthe U.S. Department of Justice during the Administration of President George W. Bush. Those opinions, while far more consequential than one about a recordation tax, smacked of political coercion, rather than dispassionate legal analysis. They appear designed to suit the preconceptions of the requesters of legal advice to justify actions the requesters had taken or wanted to take. I do not intend to have this office succumb to any political pressure to revise a fully considered legal opinion that is legally sound.
Nathan then goes on to basically accuse the council's lawyer (and Cheh's former chief of staff) Dave Zvenyach of being a Bush-league (get it?) lawyer who "provided an opinion with the conclusion you demand from us" even after writing a "well-research, well written opinion" that "actually supports" Nathan's own conclusion.
Looks like it's your turn to write a letter, Dave.