Late last month, in his drive to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over Operation Fast and Furious, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) inserted material from a sealed wiretap warrant application into the Congressional Record. Information contained in such applications cannot be released absent a court’s permission, and those who violate the law can be held in contempt. But by placing the information in the Congressional Record – rather than directly releasing it to journalists – Rep. Issa shielded his otherwise illegal conduct behind the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.
After my organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed complaints with the Justice Department and Office of Congressional Ethics, Rep. Issa’s office offered a sadly predictable response. Rather than address the evidence that he violated federal law and House ethics rules, his spokesperson attacked CREW’s credibility, accusing CREW of being complicit in what he termed a government cover-up.