House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith sent a letter on Friday to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) - a prolific letter-writer in his own right - asking him to hold hearings into the practice of securities lawyers paying plaintiffs to file class action lawsuits.
The two Republicans cite William Lerach as exhibit A. Lerach, a top former trial lawyer with Milberg Weiss, is headed to jail for his role in an illegal kickback scheme in which attorneys paid investors to initiate massive (and eventually lucrative) class action lawsuits against the companies in which they had invested. During his trial, Lerach argued this was a standard practice.
Many conservatives, led by the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, have argued that Milberg Weiss and other such firms cost investors untold sums since the market collapsed after the tech boom.
Boehner and Smith, the top Republican on Conyers' Committee, would like the Judiciary panel to investigate how widespread the practice is and consider what Congres could do to "eradicate these abuses from our judicial system." They also would like the committee to highlight other conflicts of interest that arise between these attorneys and the investors they represent.
Or do these two Republicans just want to make a point that the Democrats' own oversight craze has been politically motivated...?