Top Dem House hopeful funded Gitmo detainees' legal help 'just after 9/11'

Scott Wallace, a liberal millionaire candidate running for Congress in Pennsylvania, funded legal representation to Guantanamo Bay detainees “just after 9/11” – and has a history opposing laws that protect victims of sexual abuse, according to op-eds and interviews dating back to the 1990s. 

Wallace, grandson of a former vice president who’s now running as a Democrat in Pennsylvania's 1st Congressional District against Republican incumbent Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, was among key financiers who stepped up to support the Center for Constitutional Rights’ efforts to represent alleged terrorists, leading to the release of 17 men from Guantanamo Bay in 2008.

“Just after 9/11 many were afraid of the work the Center was doing,” Vince Warren, the executive director of the group, told Wallace’s alma mater’s Haverford Magazine in 2009, adding that funding the center’s work was difficult. “And yet H. Scott Wallace ’73 of the Wallace Global Fund, stepped up and helped.”

“Just after 9/11 many were afraid of the work the Center was doing... and yet H. Scott Wallace ’73 of the Wallace Global Fund, stepped up and helped.”

- Vince Warren, the Center for Constitutional Rights executive director

The center’s work funded by Wallace, whose candidacy the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added to the committee’s “Red to Blue” program,” was pivotal in representing prisoners before the Supreme Court in 2007. The court ruled the next year that prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to habeas corpus.

The landmark ruling led to the release of 17 members of the Uighur Muslim minority who were detained in the prison for nearly seven years. The Department of Justice protested the ruling at the time, arguing that the individuals were dangerous, but stopped at declaring them enemy combatants after the ruling.

“Everyone knows that these men are innocent of any crimes,” Warren said. “They needed to be released and, pending further hearings, they finally will be.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights’ declined to comment about Wallace’s funding efforts.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 10: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., speaks during the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force news conference on the release of the 2018 legislative agenda for the 115th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., speaks during the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force news conference on the release of the 2018 legislative agenda for the 115th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.  (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Wallace, who was the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ acting executive director and legislative director between 1985 and 1992, has also come out against a number of bills related to tackling sexual harassment and protecting victims of sexual abuse.

In 1990, he slammed a Supreme Court ruling that upheld laws protecting sexually abused children from having to testify face-to-face with the accused in open court and instead be allowed to testify and be cross-examined at another location.

Wallace said the decision could open the doors to false accusations and allowing other emotionally traumatized witnesses not to face the accused. “This decision increases greatly the chances of a false accusation not being discovered and increases the risk of an innocent person being convicted and sent to prison,” said Wallace, according to a 1990 Newsday article, adding that the ruling “may send a signal to experiment with other kinds of witnesses where there is a likelihood of serious emotional trauma.”

“This decision increases greatly the chances of a false accusation not being discovered and increases the risk of an innocent person being convicted and sent to prison."

- Scott Wallace on laws protecting sexually-abused children in court.

In 1993, Wallace criticized a bipartisan crime bill passed by the U.S. Senate that gave more funding to police and mandated minimum sentences for violent crime and other crimes such as sexual harassment and firearms offenses, saying they were “controversial.”

“But to use these spaces, states are mandated to make their sentencing laws look more like federal laws in a variety of controversial ways,” Wallace wrote in an op-ed for the Indianapolis Star. “People accused of violent crime would be imprisoned before trial, mandatory sentencing guidelines must be enacted, and sentences for certain crimes, from violent firearms offenses to sexual harassment, must be at least as long as under federal law.” 

He also criticized the “hidden cost” of hiring 100,000 police officers to address the spiraling crime problem in the U.S at the time. “The 100,000 cops on which the Senate wants to spend $9 billion will not simply be fired at the end of five years; someone will have to continue paying them,” he wrote in the same article.

Scott Wallace

Scott Wallace, shown with his wife, Christy, is running for Congress in Pennsylvania.  (Scott Wallace Campaign)

Wallace went on to decry a Victims’ Rights Amendment in 1996 as a “politically appealing sop” -- the measure would have ensured victims or survivors of a crime would be told about court dates of their cases, informed if the defendant is being released, paid restitution, and allowed to speak out at sentencing or parole conferences.

The amendment was endorsed by both then-Democratic President Bill Clinton as well as Bob Dole, the Republican nominee.

“But despite these fairly obvious, and disastrous, practical ramifications, the debate has not yet progressed beyond platitudes of concern for crime victims,” Wallace wrote in a 1996 op-ed for the Washington Post. “In this fact-free campaign environment, such a politically appealing sop to victims could pass Congress in a heartbeat. Congress should take a deep breath, count to Nov. 5 [the 1996 presidential election date], and then decide dispassionately whether the measure merits more careful examination.”

“In this fact-free campaign environment, such a politically appealing sop to victims could pass Congress in a heartbeat."

- Scott Wallace on a Victims' Rights Amendment

Zoe Wilson-Meyer, communications director for Wallace’s campaign, didn’t deny the funding for the legal advocacy group or address whether Wallace still shares the views he expressed in the past. But she stressed that he is supported by law enforcement. 

“Scott Wallace worked with Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, writing tough new crime laws, including the Missing Children’s Act and laws to help runaway and homeless youth. Wallace is endorsed by law enforcement because he has the experience to fight in Congress to keep our communities safe,” she wrote to Fox News in an email.

The campaign official urged to ask the Republican candidate why he “continues to defend Donald Trump's attacks on the FBI” and why he took “thousands of dollars directly from Adam Kidan, a convicted felon connected to a gangland-style murder.”

Fox News reported last week that the Fitzpatrick campaign received an unsolicited $5,400 donation from Kidan, which was shortly re-donated to two local charities, with the Bucks County Opportunity Council and Bucks County Down Syndrome Interest Group receiving $2,700 each.

Wallace is the grandson of Henry A. Wallace, vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

The DCCC didn’t respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.