- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

RICHMOND — An attorney for an insurance company being sued by the state Republican Party sent subpoenas yesterday to several high-ranking Republicans seeking a broad range of records related to a political eavesdropping scandal.

Among those subpoenaed were gubernatorial candidate and former Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, several members of Congress, House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell and the campaign committees of U.S. Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner, attorney Christopher C. Spencer said in a telephone interview.

Union Insurance Co. refused to cover the $750,000 the Republican Party paid to settle a lawsuit filed by Democrats after the eavesdropping. The Republican Party is suing the company for nearly $1 million — the cost of the settlement and attorney fees.

Mr. Spencer said he wants the Republicans to produce records, including e-mails and other correspondence, shedding light on donations to the party that paid for the settlement.

“I want to know who paid what to whom and why,” Mr. Spencer said.

Some basic information about donations is public record, but those records “don’t tell me the why,” he said.

Bryan K. Meals, an attorney for the state Republican Party, said the quest for records is routine in civil suits.

“We don’t think there’s anything unusual about what they’re doing,” he said.

However, the records could provide some new insight into the March 2002 political espionage that resulted in criminal convictions against the state Republican Party’s two former top officers — Edmund A. Matricardi, who was executive director, and Gary R. Thomson, who was chairman.

Democrats have been especially critical of how Mr. Kilgore responded to the case as attorney general. Mr. Kilgore, whose office reported the eavesdropping to state police, has insisted he acted appropriately.

“I think the facts are finally going to come to light and we’re going to find out what Jerry Kilgore knew and when he knew it,” said Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

Mr. Spencer said it was unlikely any of the subpoenas had been received because they just went out yesterday. Spokesmen for Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Warner said they had not seen the documents.

Matricardi used a phone number and a pass code provided by a former state Democratic Party employee to secretly monitor two private conference calls among Democratic legislators and, for a time, Gov. Mark Warner. Thomson also listened to a portion of one of the calls.

The Democrats were discussing a legal challenge to the 2001 Republican-drawn redistricting plan.

The Democrats sued in federal court in March 2004, claiming their privacy rights had been violated. Two weeks later, Union told the Republican Party of Virginia that its liability policy did not cover the misdeeds charged in the Democrats’ lawsuit.

The Republican Party paid the settlement in December.

A hearing is set in federal court in Richmond on Sept. 8 to set a trial date for the lawsuit against Union.

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