Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hastert has a point...

In all of the complaining about Dennis Hastert's reaction to the FBI's execution of a search warrant for Congressman William Jefferson's office, there is one fact to consider in all of this: Hastert has a point. Let's get one thing out of the way: Congressman Jefferson is on videotape accepting $100K. They found $90K in his freezer. The guy who gave him the money plead guilty to charges of bribing a public official. It looks very bad, although in this country, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is how things work.

Article 1, Section 6 says:
They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
OK, bribery is technically a felony, so the DOJ is in the clear here, at least to my untrained eye. However, did they need to do things the way they did?

This provision was not put into the Constitution for kicks - or for Robert Byrd to get out of traffic tickets. The Founders had good reason to put what looks like blanket protection while engaged in the course of their duties. How hard would it be for a President to use the FBI or other government agencies to intimidate Congress into passing controversial legislation or to not look into things that ought to be looked into? Not very, and in this day and age of complicated "reform" laws, it could be easy to trip up a Congressman on a technical violation of the law... which would be overlooked in exchange for consideration on certain things.

I don't ever recall a need to search a Congressman's office. Ever. Congressman Jefferson has pushed us to a situation that is very difficult for all involved. We cannot tolerate elected officials selling favors. But the protections for Congressmen and Senators from potential intimidation need to be preserved as well. This is what has Hastert worried, and his concern for this should not be treated the way it has been elsewhere.


smh10 said...

While I agree that I never approve of the hysteria and name calling that we have experienced yet again, if Congressman Jefferson would have obeyed the issued subpeona for this information, the situation would have been diffused.

While I think your point that the Executive could potentially misuse their power does that excuse or deny the behavior of Mr. Jefferson?

I guess my only other thought as an ordinary citizen is that members of congress are paid via taxpayer dollars and those offices technically belong to the people..therefore why should they be afforded privileges which ordinary citizens would be denied.

Like immigration, many sides to this issue, thanks for presenting some food for thought.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Hastert is just trying to curry favor with the Democrats in the hope that they eat him last when they take the House.

Technically, felonies are crimes, but we shouldn't let the felonious proclivities of our Representatives be used as an excuse for holding them to the same standards they would aply to you or me.

Hastert reminds me of the woman who, when caught in bed by her husband with another man, has nothing to say except "I can't believe you didn't knock."

Ken Prescott said...

Hastert needs to know when to shut up.

If he has a protest, it needs to be made in private. By publicly protesting a perfectly legal search warrant (his argument that it's unconstitutional is simply wrong), he has led me to wonder if, perhaps, he's worried about getting a warrant served on HIS office.

The shredders are working overtime on the Hill right now.