Roll Call is reporting that House Republicans are “growing uneasy with the increasingly aggressive tactics being employed by the Justice Department in its burgeoning corruption probe of Congress”. Some believe that the Justice Department has “gone too far in their techniques” and that prosecutors are trying to “get” a Congressman. Rep. Bob Ney’s (R-OH) replacement as House Administration Chairman Vern Ehlers (R-MI) voiced these concerns, “A number of Members are very concerned about the way the Justice Department is investigating.”
Noel Hillman, the former lead prosecutor at Justice’s Public Integrity Unit, stated that he did pursue more aggressive means than previous prosecutors stating that he led a “more aggressive [approach] in the ways we investigate the cases: the more effective use of cooperators, the more effective use of undercover techniques, the consensual recordings.” One example cited by Congressmen upset over the aggressive techniques is the searching of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) car while it was on Congressional grounds.
Buried within the article is a simple statement by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) that explains the problems that many Americans have with Congress nowadays.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and former California attorney general, said he was growing concerned that some prosecutors and the media were viewing the simple act of accepting campaign contributions from donors with similar legislative agendas as a criminal act.
With Members “put into a situation” in which they need to constantly raise money, Lungren noted that each party has found natural bases of donors who support each other’s agendas. But that, he said, doesn’t add up to the criminal level of a “fairly delineated quid pro quo.”
The need to constantly raise money puts Congressmen in situations where it oftens seems that they are being bribed, whether they are or not. What Lungren implies, although he would certainly disagree with the way that I read the implications, is that the problem lies in what is actually legal – the honest graft.