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November 20, 2012

Former US Sen. Warren Rudman dies at age 82

(Continued)

After Rudman left the Senate in 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed him vice chairman of the influential President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

He also led or was a member of investigative teams or federal commissions that looked into:

An $11 billion accounting failure scandal at Fannie Mae, the mortgage company.

Allegations that major dealers on the Nasdaq stock market colluded to fix prices.

Violence between Israel and Palestinians.

Ailments affecting veterans of the first Gulf War. The panel drew criticism from veterans’ groups by concluding that stress was the most likely cause of some illnesses suffered by thousands of veterans, not exposure to chemical warfare or smoke and dust from depleted uranium ammunition.

In a 1996 memoir, Rudman wrote of behind-the-scenes drama involving two high-profile Supreme Court nominees.

He confessed that he voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to preserve his ability to influence the appointment of federal judges and to get federal money for his home state, despite his belief that Thomas wasn’t “even close to being” the best candidate for the job.

“It isn’t a vote I’m proud of, but it’s a textbook example of how our system works,” Rudman wrote in “Combat: Twelve Years in the U.S. Senate.”

Thomas won confirmation in 1991 by a 52-48 vote after a showdown hearing with former colleague Anita Hill, who accused him of sexual harassment.

“If my vote had been the deciding one, I would have voted against Thomas, no matter what the consequences,” he wrote. “But once it was clear that he would be confirmed, I made a political decision.”

Rudman also wrote of another Supreme Court nomination that was much closer to his heart, that of his long-time friend and former deputy in the state attorney general’s office, David Souter.

He wrote that the very private Souter appeared ready to walk away from the nomination before confirmation hearings because he was being portrayed in news stories as a weirdo or possibly gay because he was 50, single and lived in a little farmhouse crammed with books.

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