Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Editorial Boards Echo WFP Call for Independent Investigation of Foley Scandal

Tell Attorney General Gonzales and your members of Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate a possible Foley cover-up.

The Working Families Party

For immediate release: October 3, 2006



Working Families Reiterates Request for Special Counsel

NEW YORK, NY -- Editorial boards around New York State today called for an independent investigation of how the Republican congressional leadership handled allegations of predatory sexual conduct by former Congressman Mark Foley. And new information makes the need for an independent investigation more pressing:
Congressman Tom Reynolds' (R-NY) chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, tried to broker a secret deal last Friday to get ABC News to cover up the worst part of the Foley child predator scandal, the lurid five-plus-page instant message chat in which Foley asked a child to measure his penis and then led the child into a detailed discussion of masturbatory techniques. (AmericaBlog)
On Sunday, the executive director of the Working Families Party (WFP), an independent political party in New York, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez demanding the appointment of a special prosecutor to determine whether House leaders Denny Hastert and Tom Reynolds violated criminal laws by covering up the Foley scandal.

Today, an editorial in the Albany Times Union said,
"Given the potentially explosive nature of this case, along with the chances that other high-level lawmakers might be caught up in this scandal, an independent investigation seems to be warranted. By asking for a Justice Department investigation instead, Mr. Hastert has placed his trust in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has a reputation for accommodating Republican interests. The public deserves better. The pages deserve better."
And an editorial in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle said,
"An independent investigation must be opened immediately. House Speaker Dennis Hastert wants the attorney general involved. The key is to get this investigation into the hands of someone with a reputation for impartiality and thoroughness."
Dan Cantor, WFP executive director, reiterated his party's call for a special prosecutor:
"A growing chorus of respected voices are demanding that we get impartial answers to the key question: Why didn't the House leadership with knowledge of Foley's activity take action to stop sexual predator before the news media published the incriminating internet exchanges? Given the politicized context of the scandal, only a special counsel independent of the Bush Justice Department can be depended to find out, and hold the wrongdoers accountable."
The text of the WFP's request for a special counsel follows below:
2-4 Nevins Street, 3rd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217

October 1, 2006

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
United States Department of Justice
Robert F. Kennedy Building
950 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Re: Request for the Appointment of Outside Special Counsel for the Investigation and Prosecution of Violations, or Conspiracy to Violate, Criminal Laws Relating to Mark Foley Affair

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

The Working Families Party, an independent political party in New York State calls on the United States Department of Justice to appoint an outside special counsel with the independence to investigate and prosecute any and all criminal acts committed by any member of the U.S. House of Representatives relating to the apparent cover-up of the Mark Foley affair. Due to the severe threat to the integrity of the Congress, it is essential that such a counsel be appointed immediately. Such crimes are serious felonies and they need to be fully and independently investigated.

An independent investigation by a prosecutor, not subject to dismissal by any political appointee or elected official, is the only way to ensure that all those who participated in the cover-up of Foley's activities are held accountable for committing these serious crimes. No person is above the law, not even a member of Congress.

Republican members of Congress called yesterday for a criminal investigation of Foley's activities. That is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough. To borrow a phrase from Watergate, the cover-up is sometimes worse than the original crime. That deserves an independent investigation. According to a report by Ben Smith of the New York Daily News,
"On July 27, 2006, the [National Republican Congressional Committee], which [Rep. Thomas] Reynolds chairs, accepted an unusually large contribution of $100,000 from Foley. Hard to imagine something of that size just slipping past the chairman."
To be blunt, this has every appearance of "hush money" accepted by the political committee controlled by Representation Thomas Reynolds (R-NY). The actions or inactions of Reynolds and Speaker Hastert must be investigated immediately.

The Appointment of an Outside Special Counsel Is Plainly Warranted. As you know, the Justice Department's own regulations require the appointment of an outside special counsel when a three-prong test is met. 28 C.F.R. part 600.1. First, a "criminal investigation of a person or matter [must be] warranted." Second, the "investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department." And, third, "under the circumstances it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter." If this three-prong test is met, under the federal regulations that govern the Justice Department, a special counsel must be selected from outside the government who has the authority to secure necessary resources for investigation and prosecution and who would have full investigatory and prosecutorial powers. 28 C.F.R. parts 600.3-600.6.

In this case, the most senior members of Congress have acknowledged the need for a criminal investigation. Because the political nature of the affair has put control of the House of Representatives at risk, a Justice Department under the direction of President Bush faces a deep conflict. And the potential stain of these allegations on a branch of Congress elevates the public interest to a level mandating appointment of a Special Counsel.

We thank you for your attention to this critically important matter. We trust you will review the facts and allegations and take the only appropriate action: appointment of an outside special counsel to conduct a thorough and independent criminal investigation. We look forward to the Department’s response. Please contact us to arrange a meeting to discuss this request.

Very truly yours,

Dan Cantor
Executive Director
Working Families Party
Tell Attorney General Gonzales and your members of Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate a possible Foley cover-up.

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