CREW Asks OCE to Investigate Rep. Harman Immediately
Washington, D.C. - 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 dropped.
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 reported.
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.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org