In May of 2001, President George Bush nominated Miguel Estrada to a key federal appeals court position.The court is very influential, and is widely seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. He received a unanimous "well-qualified" rating from the American Bar Association.
Democratic Senators opposed the nomination, noting Estrada's lack of any prior judicial experience at the local, state, or federal level. Democratic Senators also objected to the refusal by the Office of the Solicitor General to release samples of Estrada's writings while employed there. Republicans, however, stated that the Democratic concerns were actually just an attempt to deny Estrada a circuit court seat because of his conservatism.Undaunted by the opposition, Bush had another strategy.
A look behind the scenes would reveal an FCC review of a $2.4 billion merger between Univision, the nation's largest Hispanic television network and Clear Channel, a leading owner of Spanish-speaking radio stations. It was by no coincidence that both companies were owned by White, male, Republicans who were staunch Bush supporters. Opponents of the merger said that the combined company would control 70 percent of the Hispanic television network and radio stations. Good news for Bush who could then enlist their favor to promote the nomination of Miguel Estrada.
Then, New Jersey Democrat, Bob Menendez and New York State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, strongly advocated against the merger. Gonzalez headed up a little known agency called The National Hispanic Policy Institute. He placed print ads in Capitol Hill publications charging that the merger would create an unstoppable progression in the Spanish -speaking media that would drive out all other groups such as the Spanish Broadcasting System. Bob Menendez was equally strident.
He was the only member of the Hispanic Caucus to go public with allegations that Univision had blocked Democrats and their complaints about the Estrada nomination. Several other House Democrats supported Menendez's complaint but refused to record their charges.On September 4, 2003, Miguel Estrada withdrew his name from the nomination as a federal judge. A swirl of controversy surrounded him including a rarely invoked filibuster by the Democratic opposition. One could consider the case closed.
But, on September 8, 2006, Senator Robert Menendez was placed under investigation for allegedly collecting rent from an organization headed by a political supporter for whom he secured funds through a federal earmark. And only days prior to that, New York State Senator Efrain Gonzalez was indicted on August 25, 2006 on charges that he fraudulently took $37,000 from a community organization for Yankees tickets, a Caribbean residence and clothing.
All charges have yet to be substantiated. Some speculate that Bush had unleashed his "dog of war." Rover, minus the R, i.e. Karl Rove. The ever faithful aide possibly played a vengeful hand in the demise of both Menendez and Gonzalez. Bush does not like to lose. The case against Menendez found him innocent of criminal charges. The case against Gonzalez has moved at a snail's pace. Predictions of a trial date vary from October to January, 2009. The prosecution lacks evidence.
Stay tuned and pay close attention. Very close attention.........