Republicans in the House are resisting document requests in the Cunningham/Wade/Wilkes scandal. Democrats should make as big a fuss as possible.

If you learn that people in your organization have been involved in crimes, you basically have two options. If the crimes were against the organization, you help the investigators as much as possible, in order to ensure that all the bad guys are identified so that you can get rid of them and the authorities can put them away. If the crimes were, instead, for the organization, you put as many roadblocks as possible in the way of the investigators to help the bad guys get away with it.

Guess which option the Republicans in the House have chosen? No peeking, now!

Hat tip: Paul Kiel and Justin Rood, TPM Muckraker.

This calls for a major fuss, from Blue bloggers, from the press, from Democrats on the campaign trail, and of course from Democrats in the House.

Of course, the way the Republicans run the House, it’s next to impossible for Democrats to be heard. But “next to impossible” isn’t quite the same thing as “impossible,” if the Democrats are willing to play hardball. They could, for example, offer a resolution to consider the expulsion of the committee chairs who are dragging their feet. That’s a Constitutionally privileged motion, and therefore can’t be kept from coming to a vote.

Offering it would, of course, break the ethics truce. Good. We should be delighted to toss Mulhollan and Jefferson to the wolves, along with any other crooks in Democratic ranks, if that’s the price of making Republican corruption the firestorm issue it deserves to be.

Footnote There’s a reasonable argument to be made that the Congress shouldn’t just let Executive-branch investigators just back up a tractor-trailer to the Rayburn Building and start loading up documents. If Congress’s own disciplinary processes were functioning, there would be at least a colorable case for limiting FBI fishing expeditions into Congressional business. But those processes are not functioning. Under current circumstances, resisting document requests from the FBI is tantamount to assisting in a cover-up.

Admittedly, it’s not nice to accuse your colleagues of a conspiracy to obstruct justice. But then it’s not very nice to conspire to obstruct justice, either.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

One thought on “Cover-up!”

  1. Ethics truce?!? I wish I could make an "ethics truce" like that with some young lady I wanted to sleep with.

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