Fairfax Republican Reflects on Pack Rat Years
Gary Baise, Republican candidate for Chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, enjoys reminiscing about his years working with William Ruckelshaus, the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency and later Deputy Attorney General.
Ruckelshaus was a casualty of the August 1973 "Saturday Night Massacre" who resigned along with his boss (Attorney General Elliot Richardson) rather than fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox per instructions from President Nixon.
Baise left as well, although he was later re-hired by acting Attorney General Robert Bork, who agreed to sack Cox.
There's one story from that era that Baise doesn't so readily recount: his 1975 appearance before an Indianapolis grand jury that investigated the alleged burglary and bugging of a political associate of then-Sen. Vance Hartke (D-Ind).
In 1970, while working as an assistant to Ruckelshaus at Justice, Baise received a package of documents from Indiana Republican operatives that included a tape recording and summaries of conversations from the law office of Edward D. Lewis, an associate of Hartke's. Baise said the information, which was politically damaging to Hartke, was designed to encourage Ruckelshaus, an Indiana native, to challenge Hartke for re-election.
Baise said he told Ruckelshaus about it, but that was as far as it went. Ruckelhaus decided against making the race and the material sat in Baise's files for five years.
"It was clearly an effort to smear Hartke and Ruckelshaus wouldn't have anything to do with it," Baise said this week.
When Indiana prosecutors learned of the package's existence, Baise turned it over to the FBI. He said he had no idea that the information had been obtained illegally. No charges resulted from the grand jury, which also summoned Ruckelshaus.
One question lingers: Why did Baise hang on to the package for so long?
"I'm a pack rat," he said. "I like saving historical things."
This would not be Baise's last time on the periphery of Republican scandal. He served as an honorary board member of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) a non-profit that received $500,000 from the clients of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The money was intended to influence J. Steven Griles, the former deputy Interior Secretary, who had a romantic relationship with with CREA's president, Italia Federici.
Griles pled guilty to obstructing justice for lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Abramoff. Federici agreed in June to plead guilty to charges of tax evasion and obstructing a Congressional investigation.
Baise said he had "not a clue" about CREA's ties to Abramoff and "hardly ever saw" Federici.
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