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CREW Sues Department of Justice Over Tom DeLay Documents

WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed suit in federal district court against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for failing to provide records related to the government’s investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).  On October 19, 2010, CREW filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with DOJ and the FBI for records related to the investigation of the relationship between the disgraced former Texas lawmaker Jack Abramoff and others, as well as DOJ’s decision not to prosecute Rep. DeLay.

“Rep. Tom DeLay spent years turning the House of Representatives into his personal casino, and yet shockingly was never federally prosecuted.  The American people deserve to know why,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. 

DOJ denied CREW’s request claiming the release of records could interfere with open law enforcement proceedings.  Yet DOJ told Rep. DeLay in August 2010 it had closed its investigation of him.  In addition, the FBI argued releasing records would violate Rep. DeLay’s privacy, failing to take into account that he was a government official and there has been significant public interest in his conduct, the investigation, and DOJ’s decision not to prosecute.

CREW has filed similar requests for records of DOJ’s closed investigations of Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Don Young (R-AK), former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), and Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

“The DeLay case is just one in a string of troubling instances where the Department of Justice has declined to prosecute blatantly corrupt politicians,” said Ms. Sloan.  “The department doesn’t even want the public to know why it didn’t prosecute.  If Rep. DeLay’s actions really were not criminal, shouldn’t DOJ be happy to turn over its records and prove that?  Why all the secrecy?”

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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.

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