McIntosh goes to bat for players at hearings: Former politician represents 3 stars grilled about steroids

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Hoosiers who saw some of baseball’s biggest stars testify before a congressional committee about steroids may have caught a glimpse of former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh.

The Republican Muncie native served Indiana’s second district in the House of Representatives from 1995 until 2001, and he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2000. He is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of international law firm Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw LLP.

Commuting from Indiana to the nation’s capital, McIntosh’s legal work normally entails routine regulatory issues involving telecommunications or health care matters. But on March 17, he became part of Major League Baseball’s ongoing attempt to repair its reputation sullied by accusations and admissions of rampant steroid use among players.

“Most of the time, the things I do, you don’t try to be on television for your clients; you don’t want to be the issue,” McIntosh said. “This time, it was such a hot topic you knew it was something people would look to. It was rewarding for me.”

C-SPAN televised the event in which McIntosh could be seen walking into the hearing room with baseball stars Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling and Raphael Palmeiro. He later sat behind Palmeiro, a member of the exclusive 500-home run club who is approaching the 3,000-hit milestone.

McIntosh and fellow law partner Michael Kantor, former President Clinton’s secretary of commerce, represented Palmeiro after his agent, Arn Tellem, called the law firm seeking counsel for him and two other players who did not appear.

Palmeiro has denied using steroids since former teammate Jose Canseco, who has admitted injecting the drug, wrote in his tell-all book that he introduced Palmeiro to them while they were teammates with the Texas Rangers. Canseco also appeared before the committee.

“My goal as an attorney was to separate him from Canseco,” said McIntosh, who declined to devulge how much he earned for his work. “I was very sensitive to how we let this guy demonstrate his point that he’s good and respectful.”

His representation of Palmeiro surprised at least one acquaintance. Jeffrey Taylor, chairman of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s federal relations group and McIntosh’s former chief of staff, practices at the law firm’s Washington office.

“One of my colleagues came in and said Dave was in the front row. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?'” recalled Taylor, who caught a repeat broadcast of the hearing later. “Dave has all the tools to represent a guy like Palmeiro.”

McIntosh said he was selected to represent Palmeiro, in part, because of his past membership on the House Committee on Government Reform, the body that subpoenaed the players. Two Hoosiers currently serve on the committee-Republicans Dan Burton and Mark Souder.

John Hammond, co-chairman of Ice Miller’s public affairs group, said the players needed someone such as McIntosh who is familiar with the processes of federal government.

“It was an unusual hearing,” Hammond said. “It’s not often Congress will intrude in that area. But with [baseball] being the national pastime, I think Congress believes [it has] a real duty to intercede.”

Palmeiro read his opening statement he planned to give to lawmakers beforehand to his attorneys, who advised him to “just be himself,” McIntosh said. The morning of the hearing, the team of lawyers picked up Palmeiro at his hotel and drove to Capitol Hill. They arranged to park in a basement garage to avoid being mobbed by the throng of reporters and photographers covering the event.

The hearings began at 10 a.m. with appearances from parents who blamed their high school athlete children’s suicides on steroid use. The four-hour-plus wait until players testified allowed plenty of time for small talk, McIntosh said. He sat and waited with Palmeiro; Schilling, the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff; and Sosa, the slugging outfielder the Baltimore Orioles recently acquired from the Chicago Cubs.

During the wait, the players chatted with their lawyers about what it’s like traveling from city to city during the season and what players talk about in the locker rooms. Palmeiro told McIntosh they discuss many topics, but any conversations about steroids are kept among players. That’s why players have vilified Canseco, whose book broke the code of conduct.

Schilling is an outspoken critic of steroids. Sosa has never been accused of using the performance enhancer but will be forever linked to former St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire for their chase of the single-season home run record in 1998.

McGwire’s vague testimony, in which he neither denied nor admitted using steroids, became fodder for sports talk shows across the nation following the hearing.

“A couple of times, Palmeiro put his hand on his back,” McIntosh said, “because he was having a tough time. The guy was in a hard spot in every way.”

McIntosh also helped represent Chicago White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas, who appeared before legislators via videoconference due to an ankle injury, and New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi. Thomas has been an outspoken opponent of steroids.

Lawmakers excused Giambi from the hearing because of his grand jury testimony in which he reportedly admitted steroid use to a federal grand jury investigating BALCO Labs.

In getting Giambi excused, McIntosh and Kantor argued that his subpoena should be withdrawn because he’s a witness in the BALCO case. McIntosh said Giambi could have been subjected to perjury charges from defense attorneys if his testimony differed from what he told the grand jury.

McIntosh, who grew up rooting for the Chicago Cubs, said he felt honored to be involved in the proceedings.

“I think Raphael Palmeiro has a shot to get into the Hall of Fame,” he said. “If I could make sure his interaction with Washington maybe helps that, then I felt like I’ve done a good deed.”

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