Thursday, November 10, 2005
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican, announced at a press conference that he had an affair prior to his election in 2002 (Cox remains married to his wife), and accused Geoffrey Fieger, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for AG in the 2006 election, of trying to extort him by threatening to leak the affair to the press. Fieger is best-known from his time serving as the lawyer for Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the 1990s when Kevorkian assisted people with terminal or debilitating conditions to commit suicide. Fieger was the 1998 Democratic nominee for governor, losing badly to Gov. John Engler in that race.
The matter is much more than just a petty extortion, however, because Cox's office is investigating Fieger for possible violations of the Michigan campaign contribution laws for making anonymous donations of over $450,000 in 2004 to defeat a Republican member of the Michigan Supreme Court who was running to retain his position on the court (Michigan judges are nominated by the parties and are elected to their positions). Prosecutors have searched a PR firm that bought advertisements against the justice, and Fieger's law firm bank account records have been subpoenaed. Fieger's main practice involves plaintiff tort suits, and the Michigan Supreme Court has been less than receptive to such cases in the past few years, overturning several large verdicts in cases in which his firm represented the plaintiff.
Fieger angrily rejected Cox's claim, but the Oakland County (Mich.) prosecutor is investigating possible extortion. To make matters even more complicated, country prosecutors are also elected in partisan elections, and the Oakland prosecutor is a Republican. According to a Detroit News article (here), prosecutors have two tapes that relate to the possible extortion of Cox, including one of a meeting in which Fieger participated. Cox discussed the investigation of Fieger at his press conference, something prosecutors usually avoid, especially when their conduct may be an issue in the case.
Sex, money, and tapes . . . not the usual combination in a white collar crime case. (ph)