Third Party & Independents Archives

The culture of corruption starts with the corrupt

The line in the sand concerning records taken from the Congressional office of Jefferson has escalated to threats from top Justice Department members that they would resign rather than return documents taken during the search. It’s been stated that Jefferson ignored a subpoena request for eight months. So as the full fury of some in Congress appears to be focused on the unconstitutionality of the search. A larger issue is ignored…

The public perception of this is that Congress is protecting their own, while I'm sure we all agree that everyone should be innocent until proven guilty, there has been some very troubling information released about Jefferson and some of his behavior, including being caught on video tape accepting a $100,000.00 bribe. What would happen to one of us who refused to cooperate with a subpoena? Would we be allowed to wait for that long of a time period? Of course not, a warrant would be executed.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was quoted in the Washington Post as saying:

"Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with Constitutional protections and historical precedent."

Exactly how far does that protection go? It's okay for Congressional members to ignore subpoenas? That whatever is within a Congressional Office is off limits?

I tend to agree with Viet D. Dinh, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush administration who is now a Georgetown University law professor, also quoted by the Washington Post:

The constitutional privilege for lawmakers does not "expand to insulate everything that goes on in a congressional office, especially if there's allegations of abuse of process or bribery," Dinh said. ". . . The fine line is whether or not it relates to a legislative process or not, not whether they've raided his office."

If we look at the actual Constitution, this is what it states under Article 1, Section 6:

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

While I'm not going to claim to be an expert on Constitutional Law, I fail to see how that protects someone from ignoring a subponea or having their offices searched for documents pertaining to a criminal case. I further think that if Congress is interested in having the majority of the public believe that they are not just worried about the Justice Department coming into their offices since several others are also under investigation; they should focus on doing a much better job of policing and removing members who act unethically. That perhaps rather than the Democrats trying to figure out how to best capitalize on Republican corruption and Republicans trying to figure out how to best capitalize on Democratic corruption that both sides actually rid all of Congress of corruption.

Then some real progress would be made to end this "culture of corruption".

Posted by Lisa Renee Ward at May 27, 2006 6:43 PM
Comments
Comment #151999

Congress seems to believe they are ‘above the law’ while they continue to remind us that Bush & Co., illegal immigrants, and the rest of America are not.
This should most certainly blow up in their faces. They’ve pushed their ‘authority’ just a bit too far this time.

Posted by: bug at May 27, 2006 9:01 PM
Comment #152012

Lisa,

Agreed.

“Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with Constitutional protections and historical precedent.”

Is Nancy nuts? Constitutional protections, yes; historical precedent, NO!!! A crime committed by a member of government may not have any historical precedent, but that does not mean that we should ignore it.

Article 1, Section 6 of the Constituion is less ambiguous than it would seem at first glance.


They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same

With the exceptions listed, elected officials have general immunity when on official business, or on the way to and from official business. In other words, no speeding tickets unless it can be shown that such speeding was somehow a “Breach of the Peace.”

and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

You can’t use there official “testimony” against them, say in a court of law.

Posted by: Dr Politico at May 27, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #152023

Lisa, this sting operation against Jefferson was concluded a year ago. The video tape and the cash recovered a year ago. All the evidence to indict and try Jefferson and win a conviction was available a year ago.

That brings to vital questions to the forefront. Why did DOJ wait until a year later to bring charges? And with a year passed and only months before an election, what did they hope to acquire from Jefferson’s office? It certainly wasn’t evidence for his bribery crime a year ago.

Is it possible the DOJ sought his office records to obtain Democratic Party memos and documents regarding November’s election? Is it possible the DOJ waited a year to get a warrant to search his office because they wanted to make a scandal of this close to the election? Is it possible the Executive Branch is putting Democrats on notice that their power stretches into the their Congressional records in the Congressional offices?

This really smacks of political partisanship taking advantage of a legitimate criminal case which should have gone to trial 6 months ago. DOJ had an airtight case with video of Jefferson taking the bribe and the cash in his freezer. Why did they choose to legally, meaning obtain a search warrant from the court, search his Congressional Office a year later? If they thought there was bribery evidence there, why didn’t they subpeona for it a year ago instead of giving Jefferson a year to get rid of any other evidence?

There is a Constitutional separation of powers question here despite the fact that the search was legal. Legal does not always mean right. Innocent people are on death row and have been executed. It was legal. Doesn’t make it right.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 27, 2006 11:23 PM
Comment #152025

David from my understanding there had been 8 months that passed from the time the records were requested, and ignored by Jefferson to the time of the search warrant. That is supposedly the main reason the search warrant was even done because they did not receive cooperation thru the original subponena of documents.

So if that is accurate, I do believe this was not only legal but right. Jefferson had more than ample time to have met the request and would have avoided the whole scenario.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at May 27, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #152026
The officials said the Justice Department officials were adamant that they had respected the constitutional questions — giving Jefferson eight months to comply with a subpoena before seeking a warrant and by bringing officials with no involvement in the case to the search site to oversee and monitor that nothing not authorized in the warrant was taken.

“Their case is they took every possible step before going to extraordinary lengths and that they had judicial branch authorization and that the congressman was using his office as a barrier to obstruct the investigation,” said one of the the senior administration officials.

The official added that “their argument is they didn’t rush in to this and gave it every possible chance to run another course.”

I read this at several locations but here is one source - CNN

Posted by: Lisa Renee at May 27, 2006 11:35 PM
Comment #152027

This is a difficult issue which demands we look at the principles, and not the players. It puts many of us in the odd position where defending the principle may mean protecting a despicable person almost certainly guilty of a serious crime.

David, as you note, we must side with a broad reading of the constitution. The potential for abuse is too great. It is too easy for the Executive Branch, through its DOJ, to use legal processes to destroy an opposition party in the Legislative Branch.

It means protecting a person like Jefferson, which is hard to swallow. It means agreeing with Hastert & Pelosi; that is a combination of names guaranteed to offend everyone.

Congressional corruption is an issue which can be addressed by citizens with their vote. Serious crimes can still be addressed.

In the interests of a balance of power between branches, we really have no choice but to go this route.

Posted by: phx8 at May 27, 2006 11:36 PM
Comment #152029

I’m sorry but this has nothing to do with a balance of power, this has to do with a man who is suspected of criminal acts who used his position as a Congressperson to delay a request for documents.

He is not being targeted for his beliefs, he is being targeted because there is a very real suspicion that he is a felon.

Nor do I believe our Founding Fathers designed the Constitution to protect men like Jefferson from handing over documents.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at May 27, 2006 11:42 PM
Comment #152030

Lisa, there is no argument that the search was legal. A court ordered search warrant was obtained. That is not the issue. Like I said, it can be legal, and still be wrong.

The DOJ had the evidence they needed to prosecute without invading his office legally. That is the issue. They had the evidence to convict the man on video tape and hard cold cash in his frig a year ago. The search of his office was unnecessary and seeking it OBVIOUSLY was going to raise Constitutional Issues of Separation of Powers. So, again, the question is begged, why did DOJ take this unnecessary move? And why did they keep this under wraps until so close to an election?

It smacks of partisan politics. Legal? Yes. Right? I don’t think so, not given the unnecessary Constitutional Issues it raises in light of the fact that had everything they needed for a conviction without invading his office under a legal search warrant.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 27, 2006 11:45 PM
Comment #152033

phx8, you are right, and Lisa appears to be painting herself into a partisan corner with her comments and refusal to acknowledge the Constitutional issues raised.

One has to wonder if Lisa would have felt the same way if the shoe were on the other foot and Clinton’s Janet Reno did the exact same thing collecting all the correspondence and records from a Republican’s office under the same fact set 5 months before the 1996 election.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 27, 2006 11:51 PM
Comment #152038

Obviously they didn’t feel they had all of the information else they would have filed charges sooner. Given the huge response from the Republicans I don’t think this was partisan.

From a public perception standpoint this is not going to help Republicans, especially given Hastert’s actions. So if it was an attempt to help Republicans at election time it was a poorly done one. If anything it helped divert attention from Jefferson. Now from a standpoint of people feeling they should vote out all incumbents? That could happen.

:-)

Posted by: Lisa Renee at May 28, 2006 12:04 AM
Comment #152044

Lisa,
Congressional representatives and senators will come and go. Jefferson is innocent until proven guilty, but personally, I think he is probably guilty as hell. Given the supposed existence of a videotape showing him accepting a $100,000, and $90,000 showing up in his freezer, it sounds like he should have been arrested before now.

In any event, the underlying motivations for seeking a subpoena are irrelevant. It does not matter whether we like or detest Jefferson. A congressman has no protection from prosecution for accepting bribes, and again, it sounds like that side of the issue has already been covered.

Legally, can the DOJ enter a congressional office to search for evidence of a crime?

It is a question of separation of powers, and clauses of the constitution can be read broadly enough to prevent such a search.

The agents spent six hours in that congressional office. Are you comfortable with that?

Here is a possible scenario:

President Hillary Clinton appoints a close associate from her Whitewater days as AG, and stocks DOJ with trusted enforcers from Arkansas and New York police departments. She sends her DOJ associates to a judge who has been appointed by her; and, based upon allegations of immorality and corruption widely aired on Air America, in The New York Times, and on DailyKos, DOJ obtains subpoenas to enter the offices of the three most likely Republican opponents in the next election.

Given the reputation for Republican corruption, the move is wildly popular. The vast majority of the American citizenry approves. Hard drives are searched. E-mails are copied. Documents too. Phone records are run back through datamining operations. In a secret portion of the warrant, wiretaps & spyware are installed. Lists of political strategies, contributors, everything under the sun is obtained.

Lisa, we cannot open the door to this scenario. It is too easy to execute, and we are far too close already.

On one level, I do agree with you. Jefferson needs to be prosecuted. I agree, it is hard to take, watching a congressman hiding behind a principle to undoubtedly hide a mountain of corrupt behavior. Lisa, I hope these corrupt congressman go down: Hastert, Hunter, Lewis, and dozens of others; I truly despise them.

But sometimes principles must be upheld because of the long-term implications, even when it means giving people like Jefferson a shield behind which to hide.

Posted by: phx8 at May 28, 2006 12:16 AM
Comment #152046

David, I would feel the same way if it was a Republican who tried to use the Constitution or his or her office as a way of preventing an investigation from continuing.

My goal is to get rid of the corrupt which means to stop enabling them to continue by protecting them or allowing them to twist the Constitution.

So I’m sorry if you feel I am “painting herself into a partisan corner” but I would strongly disagree with that personal comment made about me.

I also have to say I’m slightly disappointed that this would take a personal tone especially one that was incorrect as to my political leanings.

With that I will bid you all a good night.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at May 28, 2006 12:24 AM
Comment #152068

Lisa said: “So I’m sorry if you feel I am “painting herself into a partisan corner” but I would strongly disagree with that personal comment made about me.”

Lisa, what I said was and I quote: “and Lisa appears to be painting herself into a partisan corner with her comments and refusal to acknowledge the Constitutional issues raised.”

First, I wasn’t expressing my feelings, I was expressing what your comments appeared to me as. Second, I was saying that your comments appeared to be painting you in a partisan corner since your comments dismissed the Constitutional Issue as being a relevant issue. My word partisan was intended to reflect an anti-Democrat bias. Am I wrong? Are you a supporter of the Democratic Party? If so, then the partisan corner I referred to is in fact, in error.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 28, 2006 3:11 AM
Comment #152121

David, your implication was that I was against the Democratic Party. I am against both Republicans and Democrats or any other party corruption. If you stated I am taking a more strict constitutional interpretation versus your more general interpretation that I would agree with.

I have helped Democrats and I have helped Republicans, but it is because of their individual virtues as opposed to which party. I’d also point out, not that it should matter, but in a primary election in Ohio you have to declare a party or vote on issues only. I voted a Democratic ballot.

Nor do I think my post had anything to do with me being against one party more than the other. It was based on my opinion and the information I provided that I did not feel this was unconstitutional and Jefferson brought this upon himself by ignoring a subponea for 8 months. Further that this was helping him to divert attention from the real issue here which is the questions concerning his activities.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at May 28, 2006 12:01 PM
Comment #152160

Lisa, OK. I accept that explanation of the appearances which I initially took from your comments.

But I don’t accept that the White House keeping this investigation under wraps, and ongoing for a year when they had all the evidence they needed to convict this guy a year ago. This was a political fishing expedition by a Republican White House into a Democrats political records, utterly and completely unnecessary for prosecuting the man for bribery and removing him from office. That raises Constitutional issues.

Dennis Hastert recognized that in this climate of change from probable cause to reasonable suspicion articulated by Gen. Hayden as a basis for NSA spying, and Presidential signing statements which allow the White House to reinterpret Congressional law according to its own needs, every Congressman’s political records in their office form majority and minority leaders to freshman, is vulnerable in the future to White House search and seizure for political motivations.

It raises Constitutional issues, which Congresspersons were justified in being alarmed over. I don’t know if this is a case where the little fish should be let go so the big fish can have its way, but the questions raised are far reaching for this unprecedented exercise of DOJ legal power.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 28, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #152414

When ever government thinks it is above the law, there is no law.

There is only perverion of the law, to legally plunder others.

Thus, the law has been perverted to do the very things it was designed to prevent.

And the voters empower irresponsible, corrupt incumbent politicians, by repeatedly re-electing them.

Hence, we have a government that is truly O / By / For The People.

So, what’s the ?

We picked ‘em ?

Perhaps it is futile ?

Perhaps the politicians already understand that we (the voters) are too easily brainwashed and too easily divided to ever form a majority to vote them out?
If so, it can only end badly some day?

Posted by: d.a.n at May 29, 2006 12:04 PM
Comment #152503

Another point to be made was why weren’t Congressional observers allowed to witness the search operations? Why weren’t the Capitol police involved? It seems a bit overzealous and the possibility of political espionage should not be ignored or scoffed at. They could have thought this out better.

Posted by: gergle at May 29, 2006 7:48 PM
Comment #152953

Are you sure we did d.a.n.?

Proof of Kerry non-response Bias in 2004 Midnight Exit Poll

Taking into account the finite limits on the supply of voters in each category of the midnight exit poll here is proof that all major rights to claim non-response bias in the National 2004 exit poll belong to John Kerry instead of media darling George Bush.

http://customer.wcta.net/roberty/return.htm

Posted by: BOB YOUNG at May 31, 2006 11:15 AM
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