Judge Connor Update

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 30, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Factor Follow-Up" segment tonight, as we told you in the "T-points Memo," the Ohio Senate has passed Jessica's Law. And that is a great thing. But the battle continues to rage. Cathy Harper Lee heads up the Justice League of Ohio, which is trying to remove Judge Connor, because Connor gave a child rapist probation.

And Ms. Lee's trying to do that through a citizen's petition. Apparently, The Columbus Dispatch newspaper has questioned Ms. Lee's financing. And so this week, she was audited. Joining us on the phone is Cathy Harper Lee. And from Columbus, Ohio, state Senator Steve Austria.

Ms. Lee, we know your husband passed away recently and your family is grieving. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. Been a very difficult time for you personally and professionally. This audit, do you think this was politically motivated?

CATHY HARPER LEE, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF OHIO: You know, the audit from the office of criminal justice services. I really don't have a problem with that audit and OCJS was contacted. They had a responsibility, pursuant to federal guidelines, to do that audit.

You know, our organization, above all, believes in oversight and accountability. That's what we are about. But now that we're also being audited by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, now I have to ask why. Is this just a coincidence or is someone behind it?

O'REILLY: OK. Now, we contacted the Columbus newspaper, The Columbus Dispatch. which has been very snarky in its coverage of Judge Connor’s situation. And they were involved in asking questions about your finances. Were you aware of that?

LEE: You know, I was aware of that. I did get a call from The Columbus Dispatch at which time they told me that they were receiving pressure that they were being asked to look into our.

O'REILLY: By whom?

LEE: They would not say.

O'REILLY: How you can pressure a newspaper to look into a child advocacy group? That doesn't make any sense.

LEE: Well, you know, I'm not certain about that.

O'REILLY: OK. Let me just tell you as a member of the press, that doesn't cut it. If somebody calls me and says, hey, you have to investigate Cathy Harper Lee's finances, I just laugh. I say that's not my job. It's the government's job.

We believe there's something at The Columbus Dispatch, some resentment about this whole thing. We could be wrong on that, but we believe that that's what's going on. But that is exactly what spurred the audit of you.

Now the good news is that the auditor said you're clean. Your organization is up and up.

LEE: Well, you know, I know that they told you that. And boy, and I can't wait to get the official word on that myself.

O'REILLY: Yes. They told us that.

LEE: But, I mean, yes. I know our books are good. I know that some of the things they were questioning, we did get, you know, we did have some legal advice on that. So I felt pretty confident that we were within the guidelines.

O'REILLY: All right. Good. But if you're harassed in any way, madam, you let me know immediately.

Now one final thing before we get to Senator Austria, the petition to remove Judge Connor, that's still in motion? Where is that?

LEE: Well, and that is what needed a little bit of clarification.

Now how we're going about it, we have it currently on hold for the moment until we get official verification that we are within our funding guidelines and official word from legal opinions from the IRS.

However, that said, it's my intention to take this as close to the line as possible without risking any of our funding, because I believe we have a judge on the bench who has lost his ability to be impartial. And this could impact hundreds of victims over the next five years. Politicians keep talking about the independence of the judiciary, but what about the integrity of the judiciary.

O'REILLY: Oh, absolutely. Now are you getting support from the groups that you're trying to get support from? Are you confident you'll be able to get this done?

LEE: Well, depending on the final method that we choose to pursue, and who carries that out, I believe so.

O'REILLY: OK. Ms. Lee, thanks once again. Senator Austria, congratulations to you. I know you were one of the spearheads in getting Jessica's Law passed. And now the big question is the House going to pass it and the governor sign it?

STEVE AUSTRIA, SPONSOR OF OHIO'S JESSICA LAW BILL: We sure hope so, Bill. And I want to thank you for all your help on this and inviting me to be on your program. I think I share the same sentiment as many of my colleagues in the Senate. We're very excited about what we did in the Senate this week.

O'REILLY: And you passed it overwhelmingly, correct?

AUSTRIA: We passed it overwhelmingly. We not only passed Jessica's Law, but we passed bills that would ensure mandatory sentencing at all levels in Ohio of sex offenses.

O'REILLY: Yes. It's a very, very good bill. And our research shows the House probably not going to fight you on it. And I don't — couldn't imagine the governor vetoing it.

AUSTRIA: Well, I hope not. You know, I've worked over a year on this legislation. I actually started a year and a half ago when I served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee before little Jessica's situation in Florida. And then, once Jessica's Law was done in Florida, it gave us a model, which I introduced in January as a.

O'REILLY: Well, good for you. Now I've got to ask you a personal favor, senator. You got to watch Ms. Lee's back.

AUSTRIA: Well, Ms. Lee is doing good work.

O'REILLY: Yes, you got to watch her back, because there are some bad people in your state trying to get her. And you got to watch her back. Will you do that for us?

AUSTRIA: Well, absolutely. I know Cathy personally. And we've have talked. And certainly, you know, she has every right to go out and get petitions. It's part of the process.

O'REILLY: Right. In the meantime, we're going to keep working on our end. She needs guys like you to look out for her because I'm telling you this is a nasty fight.

Senator, congratulations again. We appreciate it.

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