Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today made the following statement regarding the Constitutional issues raised by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others regarding the FBI raid on the Congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.):
There is no Constitutional issue involved. The Speech and Debate clause of the constitution covers statements made on the House floor itself, and even that clause includes a specific exception for crimes. Members of Congress are not above the law. Their offices are not immune from search by law enforcement officials executing valid warrants. Hastert and Pelosi have advanced this notion that there is some Constitutional problem in bad faith.
House leaders cannot come together to deal with the actual problems of the country, but when it comes to protecting corrupt members of Congress, they are united and energized. If Hastert and Pelosi want to destroy any remaining public confidence in Congress, they have picked the right issue.
In addition to the raid on William Jefferson's office, FBI agents have descended on West Virginia in recent days as part of the Alan Mollohan investigation. News reports also indicate that the FBI may be investigating Jerry Lewis, the powerful Chairman of the appropriations committee. These events, not some high- minded concern about the Constitution, have prompted the House leadership to act.
This political interference in a criminal probe is outrageous. House leaders should have never gotten involved and the administration should not have agreed to seal the records for 45 days. The American people side with the prosecutors and FBI agents who are trying to get to the bottom of all the corruption on Capitol Hill.
This issue may well lead to an investigation of Dennis Hastert and Nancy Pelosi.