Senate Ethics Committee wrist slaps Domenici

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Via TPM. Here’s the Associated Press version:

Retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., created an appearance of impropriety when he called a federal prosecutor in New Mexico to inquire about the timing of corruption indictments, the Senate ethics committee said Thursday.

The committee criticized Domenici in a letter to the senator, but it recommended no punishment.


“The committee finds no substantial evidence to determine that you attempted to improperly influence an ongoing investigation,” the committee letter said.

“The committee does find that you should have known that a federal prosecutor receiving such a telephone call, coupled with an approaching election which may have turned on or been influenced by the prosecutor’s actions … created an appearance of impropriety that reflected unfavorably on the Senate.”

It looks like New Mexico’s senior senator is brushing the letter aside, and he’s heading on his way out anyway, but still, it’s interesting to see such strong language come out of the committee.

US Attorney scandal continues to make headlines

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As this article in The Hill makes clear, the firing of nine US attorneys in 2006-07 has disappeared from the front pages since Alberto Gonzales resigned as US Attorney General last year. The article asserts that investigations into the firings will bring a renewed focus on the scandal, and, of course, New Mexico plays front-and-center:

Iglesias’s case is in the crosshairs of all three investigations. Testifying before Congress, he alleged last year that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) pressured him to accelerate an investigation of a Democratic politician in New Mexico ahead of Wilson’s tight reelection bid. Iglesias said he did not plan to bring charges before the November elections, and was fired in December 2006. The administration says it was not satisfied with his pursuit of voter-fraud cases.

Public records show that the Senate ethics committee spent nearly $5,000 to send three staff members to Albuquerque in March and July last year.

I’m sure Rep. Steve Pearce welcomes the news.

NMFBIHOP: DOJ emails shed light on Iglesias “talking points”

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It looks like LP has been sifting through the latest DOJ document dump:

Yet another set of e-mails relating to the firing of the US Attorneys has been released by the DOJ. Included were some e-mails relating to David Iglesias.  The interesting of which was the “draft talking points” on why he was fired.

Still no e-mails saying why he was REALLY fired, though it has been clear for weeks politics played a very large role in his firing.

You probably recognize the right-wing talking points, but here it is when they are actually discussing it.  The e-mail is from Brian Roehrskasse to Monica Goodling, William Moschella, and Richards Hertling.  It was CC’d to Courtney Elwood, Kyle Sampson and Tasia Scolinos. You can find it on page 36 the sixth set of e-mails released last night.

You’ll have to follow the link to LP’s blog to find out what was in the e-mails (and stay tuned, LP has promised more), but here’s a teaser:

I just spoke to Kyle on the plane and have incorporated his input as well as edits from Courtney and Tasia.  The McClatchy story is below — I think it comes from an interview rather than a press conference.

Please send me you [sic] final comments now so I can begin to use these talking points.  Thanks.
DRAFT Talking Points

House committee approves immunity for Goodling

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According to TPM Muckraker, the House Judiciary Committee has approved immunity for Monica Goodling, the former Alberto Gonzales aide many think can answer a whole bunch of questions regarding the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys:

The House Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 32-6, just authorized a subpoena for Monica Goodling’s testimony and an offer of immunity.

As former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias pointed out yesterday, Goodling should prove to be a very valuable witness to investigators. Since Goodling acted as the liaison to the White House at the Justice Department, communications from Karl Rove or other White House officials are likely to have gone through her. As Iglesias put it, she has “the keys to the kingdom.”

Some back info here.

Iglesias initiated OSC probe

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I’m heading to a Town Council meeting, but I just saw this over at Think Progress:

Tonight on MSNBC, fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias revealed new key details about the Official of Special Counsel’s (OSC) probe into Karl Rove and other White House officials reported today by the Los Angeles Times.

Iglesias said that on April 3, he filed a Hatch Act complaint with the OSC, charging that Karl Rove and others may have broke the law by firing him over his failure to initiate partisan-motivated prosecutions. Iglesias said he subsequently spoke with OSC chief Scott Bloch, who made clear that he was planning to launch an investigation.

TPM Muckraker today had more on the investigation, which will examine Karl Rove’s involvement in several possible Hatch Act violations:

Bloch (who is, by the way, a Bush appointee) seems to have combined a host of investigations — 1) whether U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias was wrongly terminated due to his Navy reserve service, and 2) the White House’s use of RNC-issued email accounts to conduct government business, and 3) Rove’s and his deputy’s presentations to federal employees about Republican electoral prospects — into one big stew pot of wrongdoing.

Of all three, Rove’s now-infamous briefings would seem to be the most fertile investigatory ground for Bloch.

More details about Bloch were revealed this afternoon (also via TPM Muckraker):

But government watchdogs have accused Bloch himself of similar behavior. In April 2005, they and others complained the White House appointee had allowed his office to “sit on” a complaint that then-White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice used government funds to travel in support of President Bush’s re-election bid.

By contrast, they said, Bloch ordered an immediate on-site investigation of a complaint that Bush’s challenger for the White House, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., improperly campaigned in a government workplace, which had been filed around the same time.