Attorney In Rove Article Fired, Sues

WASHINGTON - JULY 13 : White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove leaves his Washington, DC, home a little after 6 a.m. July 13, 2005. Rove was identified in notes by Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper as a Bush Administration staffer that did share information that former Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife was a covert C.I.A. operative. Although he did not mention the operative by name, Rove is under political fire from the left in Washington, where some Democratic senators have called for his resignation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES/Chip Somodevilla

A former attorney for the Texas Secretary of State has filed a lawsuit claiming she was fired for political reasons after she spoke to a newspaper about presidential adviser Karl Rove, according to a media report.

Elizabeth Reyes, who was dismissed in September 2005, filed the lawsuit in state district court. Reyes had spoken to the Washington Post about Rove's voting eligibility in Texas, questioning whether two small cottages he owns in the state qualified as a residence for purposes of registering to vote.

In the suit filed in state district court, Reyes says she was fired "because of the political embarrassment and pressure," The Dallas Morning News reported.

Roger Williams, who resigned as Secretary of State in June to head the state Republican Party's 2008 campaign effort, has confirmed that Rove called him after the article appeared, but he said the White House adviser did not ask that Reyes be fired.

In Texas, state employees can be fired at will. Her attorney claims the firing violated her constitutional right of free speech.

Williams has previously said Reyes was let go because she violated agency policy. He said she was not authorized to discuss controversial issues with the media.

Williams is a major Republican fundraiser and a longtime ally of Rove and President George W. Bush. He is thought to have political ambitions of his own, perhaps as a Republican candidate for governor in 2010.

The Post article, dated September 3, 2005, told of Rove's reimbursement of Washington, D.C. property taxes amounting to $3,400 because he took a homestead deduction on his D.C. property for which he wasn't eligible, being a registered voter in Texas. (For three years, from 2001 until the sale of his Austin home, Rove claimed homesteads in Texas and Washington, which the article noted was technically illegal.)

In the article, Reyes stated that ownership in and of itself doesn't make a residence, and that in Texas registering to vote where you do not reside can bring voter fraud charges. While she said that Rove's rental cottage in Kerr County "doesn't sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation," she acknowledged that "questions of residency are ultimately for the court to decide."

Reyes said she was answering a hypothetical question and did not know she was talking with a reporter when she made the comments about Rove. She said his name never specifically came up.

The lawsuit seeks lost wages and unspecified punitive damages. In addition, Reyes asks that references to her termination be eliminated from her state employment file.

Rove announced last week that he would step down as Mr. Bush's adviser.
  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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