For Immediate Release
CREW Renews Request for Investigation Into Rep. Wilson
WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to
investigate whether Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) violated House rules by
improperly contacting a sitting U.S. Attorney.
The U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, David C. Iglesias has
stated that, in mid-October, two members of Congress from New Mexico
pressured him about an ongoing corruption probe of state Democrats.
Apparently, Rep. Wilson first called Mr. Iglesias and Sen. Pete
Domenici (R-NM) called a week later. After Sen. Domenici admitted
calling Mr. Iglesias, yesterday, Rep. Wilson finally admitted that she
too had called the U.S. Attorney.
Rep. Wilson's call to Mr. Iglesias violates chapter 7 of the House
ethics manual, which prohibits members from contacting executive or
agency officials regarding the merits of matters under their formal
consideration. House rules also state that if a member wants to affect
the outcome of a matter in litigation, the members can file a brief
with the court, make a floor statement, or insert a statement into the
Congressional Record. Directly calling officials to influence an
on-going enforcement matter is not an option.
House rules also state that a member may not claim he or she was
merely requesting "background information" or a "status report" because
the House has recognized that such requests "may in effect be an
indirect or subtle effort to influence the substantive outcome of the
Rep. Wilson's conduct may also violate the requirement that members
conduct themselves in a manner that "reflects creditably on the House."
In a precedent cited by the House ethics committee when it admonished
former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House has held that
members are prohibited from asking an executive branch employee to
engage in an activity having an impermissible political purpose.
CREW's complaint alleges Rep. Wilson contacted Mr. Iglesias to
discuss an ongoing investigative matter for the impermissible political
purpose of harming Democrats in the November elections.
Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, stated, "Reprehensibly,
Rep. Wilson attempted to influence the criminal justice process for
partisan political gain and then tried to hide her misconduct from
public scrutiny." Sloan continued, "Now that Rep. Wilson has finally
come clean, it is time for the newly reconstituted House ethics
committee to prove it is not merely a paper tiger and take swift
action. Anything less undermines our criminal justice system."