CREW Renews Request for Investigation into Rep. Wilson
Washington, DC- Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate whether Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) violated House rules by improperly contacting a sitting U.S. Attorney.
The U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, David C. Iglesias has stated that, in mid-October, two members of Congress from New Mexico pressured him about an ongoing corruption probe of state Democrats. Apparently, Rep. Wilson first called Mr. Iglesias and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) called a week later. After Sen. Domenici admitted calling Mr. Iglesias, yesterday, Rep. Wilson finally admitted that she too had called the U.S. Attorney.
Rep. Wilson’s call to Mr. Iglesias violates chapter 7 of the House ethics manual, which prohibits members from contacting executive or agency officials regarding the merits of matters under their formal consideration. House rules also state that if a member wants to affect the outcome of a matter in litigation, the members can file a brief with the court, make a floor statement, or insert a statement into the Congressional Record. Directly calling officials to influence an on-going enforcement matter is not an option.
House rules also state that a member may not claim he or she was merely requesting “background information” or a “status report” because the House has recognized that such requests “may in effect be an indirect or subtle effort to influence the substantive outcome of the proceedings.”
Rep. Wilson’s conduct may also violate the requirement that members conduct themselves in a manner that “reflects creditably on the House.” In a precedent cited by the House ethics committee when it admonished former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House has held that members are prohibited from asking an executive branch employee to engage in an activity having an impermissible political purpose.
CREW’s complaint alleges Rep. Wilson contacted Mr. Iglesias to discuss an ongoing investigative matter for the impermissible political purpose of harming Democrats in the November elections.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, stated, “Reprehensibly, Rep. Wilson attempted to influence the criminal justice process for partisan political gain and then tried to hide her misconduct from public scrutiny.” Sloan continued, “Now that Rep. Wilson has finally come clean, it is time for the newly reconstituted House ethics committee to prove it is not merely a paper tiger and take swift action. Anything less undermines our criminal justice system.”