- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2003

The woman who provided Democrats with their latest ammunition to attack Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor in an attempt to derail his nomination to the federal appeals court has ties to a man under investigation by Mr. Pryor.

Kelly Foradori worked for the Republican Attorneys General Association, a group formed by Mr. Pryor and others to raise money for Republican campaigns. She was hired on a recommendation from Clayton “Lanny” Young Jr., who pleaded guilty last month to embezzling and conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a $100,000 bribery scandal, according to the Department of Justice.

Ultimately, Miss Foradori was terminated, said Claire Austin, the association’s finance director. Miss Austin said she instructed Miss Foradori to turn over all documents and computer files before she left.

Those documents are the ones Miss Foradori e-mailed to Democrats on July 2, less than one week after Mr. Young pleaded guilty to the charges. They contain information on political fund-raising activity done by Mr. Pryor and other former Republican attorneys general.

The sheaf of documents “was private property that was stolen out of my office,” said Miss Austin, a Pryor supporter.

She said she believes that Miss Foradori and Mr. Young remain in close contact, having been seen eating together in restaurants around the state’s capital, Montgomery.

“She has handled his books and signed his checks for years,” Miss Austin said. “Nobody knows more about his business dealings than Kelly Foradori.”

Mr. Young and Miss Foradori could not be reached for comment.

“Somebody put her up to this,” Miss Austin said Friday. “This is nothing but sheer politics.”

Sens. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, said the documents — which they’ve had for two weeks — suggest that Mr. Pryor might not have been truthful in his testimony before the committee. Further investigation is required, they said.

Republicans said the documents support no such accusations and call the effort a carefully timed “smear campaign.”

Determining who’s correct is not so simple because most of the records are requests for Mr. Pryor and others to make phone calls, and it’s not clear whether he or others ever made them. Also, it’s not clear whether companies Mr. Pryor raised money from had dealings with his Attorney General’s Office, which was the focus of his testimony.

From the start, Mr. Pryor’s nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has drawn intense opposition about his unapologetic views against abortion. A vote by the Judiciary Committee on his nomination had been delayed three times when the committee gathered Thursday to vote on him.

But that meeting devolved into nasty accusations, with Democrats demanding further investigation into Mr. Pryor and Republicans calling for an investigation into Democratic staffers. A vote on Mr. Pryor was postponed for a fourth time, until Wednesday.

The Mobile Register speculated that the document drop was “dirty political payback for an attorney general doing his job, which is prosecuting people for crimes.”

If it is retaliation for Mr. Pryor’s investigation into Mr. Young, it will have no affect, Mr. Pryor said Friday.

At Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Republicans were particularly scorched because of the timing of a leak of the documents by an unnamed Democratic staffer to The Washington Post, which ran a story about them the day of the meeting.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said judicial confirmations have become so acrimonious that nominees have become criminal defendants, Democrats have become prosecutors and Republicans have become defense lawyers.

“That is what I hate about this committee,” he said sharply. “I thought we were here to pick good people to sit on the bench.”

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