Sunday, April 27, 2008

Senate ethics panel admonishes Domenici

Go to The Hill original
The Senate Ethics Committee admonished Sen. Pete Domenici (N.M.) Thursday for contacting a U.S. attorney in his home state during a wide-ranging corruption probe, closing an investigation that clouded the Republican’s six-term Senate career.

The light punishment came after the committee found “no substantial evidence” that Domenici tried to influence attorney David Iglesias when he contacted him to inquire about the status of a 2006 investigation into corruption charges on a state Democratic official. A possible indictment could have buoyed the re-election hopes of Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.). Iglesias charged that Domenici and Wilson were pressuring him to wrap up the investigation before that November’s elections, a violation of ethics rules.
In a letter to Domenici, the committee said it focused its inquiry narrowly on the phone call to Iglesias, who was one of nine U.S. attorneys later fired by the Bush administration.

The committee, which spent nearly $5,000 to send three staff members to Albuquerque in March and July last year to investigate the matter, said that Domenici’s phone call to Iglesias, in advance of an upcoming election, “created an appearance of impropriety that reflected unfavorably on the Senate.”

The Ethics Committee’s review is hardly an end to the firings of the U.S. attorneys. Both chambers are pursuing contempt of Congress charges against White House officials for refusing to testify on the matter, and the Justice Department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility have launched far-reaching probes.


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