And what does it have to do with Bush and the Texas Air National Guard?
You may have read that, as part of her patchy career, Harriet Miers was the chair of the Texas Lottery Commission. You may have read that she was credited for cleaning up some lottery scandal in Texas.
Central to the scandal was a Rhode Island company called GTech, which had a contract with the State of Texas to run the Texas lottery. For years, GTech was wildly overcharging the State of Texas for its services.
Despite that, Texas never complained (at least, not until the overcharges became public knowledge).
Why not? Well, let’s get deeper in the details.
GTech’s lobbyist in Texas was a guy named Ben Barnes.
Does the name "Ben Barnes" ring a bell? It should — his name came up during the 2004 presidential elections. A former Speaker of the House (in Texas), Ben Barnes was the guy who claimed that he personally pulled strings to get young Dubya into the Texas Air National Guard (and hence, avoid Vietnam service).
Of course, Ben Barnes, back in the mid-to-late 1990’s wasn’t revealing that information. And it was a good thing, because when Bush was running for governor in 1994, Bush denied the charge that he had strings pulled on his behalf to get into the Texas Air National Guard.
So let’s take a snapshot: A corrupt lottery company is screwing Texas. But Texas continues to allow them to get away with it. Why would the government look the other way? Could it be that the lottery company’s man-in-Texas possessed politically damaging information regarding Governor Bush’s military record?
Eventually, the details of the GTech’s corruption became known the public. And there was a mess to clean up. Many on the lottery commission believed that when GTech’s contract came up for renewal, it should have been forced to rebid against competing companies, rather than simply having it renewed.
But strangely, that didn’t happen. GTech’s contract was renewed by Texas, without competitive bidding. And Ben Barnes was let go by GTech, receiving $23 million as a goodbye gift.
And here’s where it gets interesting (if not more confusing). According to this anonymous letter sent to the U.S. Justice Department questioning the $23 million payoff to Barnes, there was some behind-the-scenes discussions about the whole GTech contract renewal:
Several months ago many of us felt that the Lottery Commission should rebid the GTech contract when it came up for renewal. Leaders of the Republican Party strongly supported rebidding and I believe the Chair of the Commission also wanted to rebid. It is now time to disclose at least one reason why it was not rebid. Governor Bush thru Reggie Bashur made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the 94 campaign.
Bashur was sent to talk to Barnes who agreed never to confirm the story and the Governor talked to the Chair of the Lottery two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid.
And the Chair of the Lottery was Harriet Miers.
Now, there’s more to this, and I’ve only given the bare facts. You can read more here. But the foregoing suggests that Meirs was part of a conspiracy to keep Barnes quiet. Bush had to clean up the lottery commission mess, but he couldn’t allow Barnes to be pissed off, lest Barnes divulge the information about Bush’s military record. And that’s where Meirs came in.
So who is Larry Littwin? He was the head of the Texas Lottery Commission at the time (and Meirs was the chair of the TLC at the time). More importantly, he claims to have some important information relating to all this, and he wants to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
WASHINGTON — A former Texas lottery official, who claimed that then-Gov. George W. Bush’s desire to cover up his National Guard record helped steer decisions about a key lottery contract, said he wants to talk to senators about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’ possible role in that effort.
"If I were to be subpoenaed to come to the thing, I would come," said Lawrence Littwin, who filed a lawsuit after he was fired as the lottery’s executive director in 1997. "I would say the committee, I think, would be interested."