11 Feb 2004 The Senate Won’t Police Itself: Justice Department Probe of Unethical Senate Conduct Sought
In response to allegations of unethical conduct among U.S. senators – including the possible exchange of votes for campaign contributions – The National Center for Public Policy Research has joined other organizations in asking the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section to begin an immediate investigation.
Also participating in the call for an official investigation are National Center programs Project 21, an African-American leadership network, and its American Criminal Justice Center, which covers judicial issues.
Manuel A. Miranda, a former counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, has informed Senate Ethics Committee Chief Counsel Robert Walker that he, Miranda, read documents obtained from a once-shared section of the Senate Judiciary Committee computer network that “includes evidence of the direct influencing of the Senate’s advice and consent role by the promise of campaign funding and election support in the last mid-term election.”
Related documents published in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times show Committee business was profoundly influenced by the demands of special interest groups prior to the most recent mid-term elections and the change in Senate leadership. The computer hard drive containing the files cited by Miranda is now in the possession of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle.
The letter to the Justice Department calls on the Public Integrity Section to “take immediate possession” of the hard drive before the sergeant-at-arms’ office “inadvertently or intentionally destroy[s] evidence of a crime.” The sergeant-at-arms’ office was charged with finding out how the files were obtained and not what they contain, so a Justice Department investigation would not be duplicative or obstructive.
“Manuel Miranda is a whistleblower,” said Amy Ridenour, president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, “but whistleblowers are not appreciated in the exclusive club that is the U.S. Senate. That’s why even powerful Republican Senators have acted against a staffer who exposed possible wrongdoing by Democrats, and why an impartial Justice Department investigation, completely beyond the reach of Senate influence, is needed in this case.”
“We’ve investigated to death how these scandalous memos were leaked, but we’ve ignored their shocking content,” said David Almasi, the director of the American Criminal Justice Center. “If the allegations are true, a heinous crime has been committed against our constitutional form of government. It is our duty to get to the bottom of these serious charges.”
“It would be a grievous and appalling miscarriage of justice if the reportedly damning memos referenced by Mr. Miranda’s were not made public,” said Project 21 National Advisory Council member Mychal Massie. “For the Justice Department to not conduct a full and open investigation would be an unacceptable breach of the public trust and fiduciary responsibility.”
A copy of the letter to the Department of Justice is available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/JudiciaryComplaint204.html. The Senate Judiciary Committee memos that have been made public can be obtained at http://fairjudiciary.com/cfj_contents/press/collusionmemos.shtml. The departure statement of ManuelMiranda can be read online athttp://www.nationalcenter.org/Miranda204.html.
The National Center is a conservative/free-market think tank established in 1982.