The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

CREW Asks OCE and DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility to Investigae Rep. Harman Immediately


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has
asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate Rep. Jane
Harman (D-CA) after Congressional Quarterly reported that a
tape exists in which Rep. Harman offers to influence a Justice
Department investigation into two former American Israeli Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC) employees in exchange for AIPAC's help in
securing her the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee. CREW
also asked the Department of Justice's Office of Professional
Responsibility to investigate why the case against Rep. Harman was

In the fall of 2005, Rep. Harman was recorded on tape saying she
would "waddle" into the AIPAC matter if "you think it'll make a
difference." A suspected Israeli agent asked her if she could use her
influence to persuade then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to
reduce the charges against the two former AIPAC officials. Rep. Harman
explained that influencing the attorney general might be difficult
because he "just follows White House orders," but that she might be
able to influence lower level officials. Rep. Harman ended the call
after stating, "This conversation doesn't exist."

The Justice Department allegedly dropped its investigation into Rep.
Harman's actions at the behest of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
because the Bush administration needed her help defending the
administration's warrantless wiretapping program, news of which was
about to break in The New York Times. Rep. Harman was a vocal defender of the administration's policy.

Rep. Harman may have committed bribery and may have violated House
rules prohibiting members from engaging in ex parte communications with
executive or independent agency officials on the merits of matters
under their formal consideration; failure to uphold the Code of Ethics
for Government Service, and acting in a manner that does not reflect
creditably on the House.

CREW asked OPR to investigate whether the Department of Justice
dropped the investigation into Rep. Harman based on political
considerations, rather than a lack of evidence, as has previously been

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, "If Rep.
Harman agreed to try to influence an ongoing criminal investigation in
return for help securing a committee chairmanship, her conduct not only
violates federal law and House rules, but also her oath to uphold the
Constitution. As plum a position as the chair of the Intelligence
Committee may be, the political gamesmanship necessary to win it must
stop well before the grand jury's door." Sloan continued, "This whole
sorry episode is also yet another example - as if we needed any more -
of the depths to which the Bush Justice Department was willing to sink
to advance its political agenda."

Read CREW's letters to the OCE and OPR in the Related Documents section on the right.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.