Texas Documents Show Miers's Close Ties to Bush
Documents Show Miers's Close Ties to Bush
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL and SIMON ROMERO
Published: October 11, 2005
AUSTIN, Tex., Oct. 10 - "You are the best governor
ever - deserving of great respect," Harriet E. Miers
wrote to George W. Bush days after his 51st birthday
in July 1997. She also found him "cool," said he and
his wife, Laura, were "the greatest!" and told him:
"Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."
Ms. Miers, President Bush's personal lawyer and his
selection for a Supreme Court seat, emerges as an
unabashed fan in more than 2,000 pages of official
correspondence and personal notes made public on
Monday by the Texas State Library and Archives
Commission in response to open-records requests.
Mr. Bush returned the admiration, the files show.
After Ms. Miers's birthday wishes, he wrote thanks and
a "happy 52nd to you." He added, "I appreciate your
friendship and candor - never hold back your sage
The documents, including many minutes of meetings of
the Texas Lottery Commission, which Ms. Miers headed,
shed little light on her legal thinking, but
underscore her ties to Mr. Bush. Because of their
closeness and her lack of a judicial record, some
critics have dismissed Ms. Miers as a crony unworthy
of nomination to the court but for her confidential
service as the president's lawyer.
Others question whether their bond could undermine the
separation of powers of the executive and judicial
More than a year into Mr. Bush's first term as
governor, Ms. Miers drew on their friendship by asking
the Bushes to serve as "honorary chairs" at an
Anti-Defamation League dinner in 1996 honoring Ms.
Miers with the Jurisprudence Award for devotion to
constitutional principles and democratic values.
Mr. and Ms. Bush agreed, and the governor delivered
one of the two keynote tributes, saying: "A desire to
see justice done is what drives my friend Harriet
Miers. And believe me, when Harriet is out for
justice, she is a formidable character."
Mr. Bush added: "When it comes to cross-examination,
Harriet can fillet better than Mrs. Paul. I know
first-hand. She is my lawyer."
A few days later, Ms. Miers wrote to thank the Bushes,
saying, "Texas has a very popular governor and first
lady!" She recalled a little girl who collected Mr.
Bush's autograph and said, "I was struck by the
tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives
The notes to Mr. Bush date from at least March 1995,
around the time he named her to the lottery
commission, the files show. On March 25, on the
letterhead of her Dallas law firm, Locke Purnell Rain
Harrell, Ms. Miers wrote to thank him "for taking the
time to visit in the office and on the plane back -
"Keep up all the great work," she wrote. "The state is
in great hands. Thanks also for yours and your
family's personal sacrifice."
In October 1997, Ms. Miers sent Mr. Bush a flowery
greeting card in thanks for a letter that he had
written on her behalf. In it, she said of his
daughters: "Hopefully Jenna and Barbara recognize that
their parents are 'cool' - as do the rest of us."
She added, "All I hear is how great you and Laura are
doing," and ended, "Texas is blessed."
A spokesman for the White House, Allen Abney, said he
did not have enough information on the exchanges to
comment in detail.
"We've said all along they are close," Mr. Abney said.
"The president nominated Ms. Miers because of her
qualifications and because he knows her and they share
the same conservative judicial philosophy."
The documents, released on Monday at the archives and
covering 1995 to 2000, did not touch on her views on
sensitive social issues. They also were not related to
Mr. Bush's campaigns for governor and president. Those
files are held with his father's papers at Texas A&M
and are not public.
Before the release, the papers were reviewed by the
office of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, which made no
objections. The lottery commission blocked the release
of two confidential memorandums with appeals to the
state attorney general's office.
The search produced more than 2,000 pages from the
2,000 cubic feet of documents from Mr. Bush's files as
governor and more than 20 square feet of records from
the commission. Some papers from Ms. Miers's time at
the commission , a position to which she was named by
Mr. Bush, depicted her as a bureaucrat with a keen eye
for procedure. They also showed she sailed through her
confirmation hearing. Minutes of commission meetings
showed Ms. Miers in command, questioning employees and
other commissioners on topics like advertising,
charitable bingo operations and bids to help manage
the lotteries. One lawmaker asked what groups could
run bingo, saying, "Could the Ku Klux Klan?"
Ms. Miers responded, "Well, I would certainly hope
Nathan Levy contributed reporting from Austin for this article.