House Ethics Committee Must Investigate Calls to U.S. Prosecutors, Rep. Hastings Should Recuse Himself

Common Cause is urging House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) to launch an investigation into telephone calls to federal prosecutors made by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and by a former staff member to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA). Common Cause also called for the recusal of Rep. Hastings from any such investigation because the staff member, Ed Cassidy, said that he made the call on Hastings’ behalf, and Hastings has already concluded that Cassidy’s call was “entirely appropriate.”

US Attorney David Iglesias and John McKay, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, were among six U.S. Attorneys who testified before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on March 6. They all had been dismissed from their jobs for what they believe were partisan reasons.

Both Wilson’s call to Iglesias and Cassidy’s call to McKay concerned pending federal investigations that had political implications. The U.S. Attorneys in question said that these contacts left them feeling “dismayed”, “concerned” and pressured. “These former U.S. attorneys, all of whom were appointed by President George W. Bush, have charged that their dismissals were politically motivated,” Common Cause said in a letter sent Friday to Tubbs Jones. “The calls from Members of Congress and their staffs have reinforced their conviction that politics played a role in their firings.”

“The House has a responsibility to ascertain whether Rep. Wilson, Mr. Cassidy, or any other Members or House staffers who may be identified in the future as having made contact with U.S. Attorneys to learn the status of pending investigations, have violated House ethics rules,” the Common Cause letter states. “It is the Committee’s responsibility to examine these calls, and get to the bottom of the motives of the callers. The Committee also should probe whether the calls are related in any way to the subsequent dismissals of the U.S. Attorneys in question.”

Read the full letter here.