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Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - Page updated at 02:47 PM

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McDermott owes $1 million for secretly taped phone call

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., says Congressman Jim McDermott owes an Ohio congressman $1 million for leaking an illegally taped phone call to the media.

Today's decision may end the dispute that began in 1996 when John Boehner (BAY'-ner) was taped talking about an ethics case involving Newt Gingrich. The tape reached McDermott who gave it two newspapers. He says it's a free speech issue.

Boehner sued and the case has been in the courts for a decade. A federal court ruled McDermott had no right to release the call.

McDermott says the million-dollar judgment is a small price to pay in defense of the First Amendment. He created a defense fund, and it collected about $100,000 last year.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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