Monday, March 05, 2007
(Ain't it sweet, Pete, bein' hugged by Shrub?)
CREW FILES ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST SEN. DOMENICI
Washington, DC – Today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) violated Senate Rules by contacting the U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, David C. Iglesias, and pressuring him about an ongoing corruption probe.
Sen. Domenici has acknowledged that he contacted Mr. Iglesias to inquire about an ongoing corruption probe of Democrats. Mr. Iglesias previously stated that in mid-October, he was pressured about the pace of the investigation by two New Mexico lawmakers. Initially, when asked about Mr. Iglesias's allegations, Sen. Domenici stated, "I have no idea what he's talking about." Sen. Domenici has now admitted that he called Mr. Iglesias, stating, "I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what time frame we were looking at."
In a discussion of Senate Rule 43, the Senate Ethics Manual states that "[t]he general advice of the Ethics Committee concerning pending court actions is that Senate offices should refrain from intervening in such legal actions . . . until the matter has reached a resolution in the courts." The manual also indicates that Senators are not to communicate with an agency regarding ongoing enforcement or investigative matters.
CREW's complaint alleges that Sen. Domenici violated Rule 43 by pressuring Mr. Iglesias to act quickly on a pending corruption investigation. Moreover, given that Sen. Domenici made the call shortly before the November elections, he appears to have violated the prohibition on contacting agencies based on political considerations.
CREW also alleges that by initially denying Mr. Iglesias's allegation, Sen. Domenici may have violated Senate rules by engaging in "improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate."
Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, stated, "The Senate Ethics Committee should take advantage of the fact that Mr. Iglesias will be in Washington testifying before Congress to convene its own hearing to learn the details of Sen. Domenici's telephone call." Sloan continued, "If, as it appears, Sen. Domenici pressured a sitting U.S. Attorney to push a criminal case to benefit a political party, the Ethics Committee should take swift and harsh action. No member of Congress can be permitted to manipulate our system of justice for political gain."
CREW's letter to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and related documents are available on CREW's website.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.
I admire Iglesias for not taking the rap put on him -- poor performance -- when he had appraisals showing good performance. It is so nice to see a Republican who is made of strong moral fiber.
Dominici -- I am not convinced we can't do better. Where was he when the new bomb project was given to Livermore? He didn't deliver the goods. He also supported the rebid of the LANL contract. What do we need this guy for?
I know that "St. Pete" is often viewed as inseparable from discussions about the Lab, but this possible ethics violation is something that has no reason to be on the blog because it has nothing to do with LANL or LANS. Saying that anything involving Sen. Domenici is blog-worthy because of his past patronage is just sophistry.
move along, move along, less and less of interest on the "LANL" blog except the usual bunch of arrogant "we won all the wars" whiners.
When has ethics been the strong suit of ANY politician regardless of partisan bent?
And don't forget, Congress wanted the LANL contract put up for competitive bid, that's it. It was DOE/NNSA that stupidly decided to not only compete it but force it to be 1)corporate and 2)award fee. What LANL is now faced with is being a marionette to every whim and desire of DOE/NNSA and the attached strings are intensely and intrinsically financial. If staff reductions are desired by DOE all they have to do is reduce funding further and it happens. Whatever hoops DOE wants LANL to jump through all they have to do is establish the hoops in the annual Performance Base Initiatives that determine award fee and you can bet it happens. The methodology change at LANL is a contracting issue, not a congressional issue - don't lump it all together. Domenici has his track record at pulling for LANL and his current issues is for him to deal with. The issues themselves have nothing to do with LANL.