CREW: Why Does the House Need to Protect Itself – and a Former Staffer for Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) – from the Department of Justice?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 19, 2007
9:55 AM

CONTACT: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Naomi Seligman Steiner
202.408.5565
nseligman@citizensforethics.org

 
Why Does the House Need to Protect Itself – and a Former Staffer for Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) – from the Department of Justice?
 

WASHINGTON, DC - October 19 - Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said today:

“Why does the House need to protect itself from the Department of Justice?

As reported yesterday in The Hill, the House General Counsel’s Office is helping House Appropriations Committee staffer Greg Lankler resist a grand jury subpoena issued as part of the investigation into Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Mr. Lankler is arguing that the Justice Department’s demand for records and testimony is inconsistent with the rights and privileges of the House. In other words, he is claiming that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause prevents him from complying with the subpoena. But the truth is the Speech or Debate Clause privilege can be waived. Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey and Ranking Member Lewis could allow Mr. Lankler to tell the grand jury what he knows.

The 'cleanest Congress in history' should not be using the Speech or Debate Clause to impede House staffers from testifying about congressional corruption. It is the people who need protection from corrupt members of Congress, not corrupt members who need protection from the Justice Department.”

 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org.

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