Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Conyers Expanding Staff for Upcoming Probes

A harbinger of what’s to come…

Michigan Democrat and chairman of the vaunted House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers Jr., has drawn up a contract – at a cost of up to $225,000 over the next nine months – to aid committee staff in upcoming investigations into past and present conduct of the Bush administration.

According to an unsigned copy of the contract obtained by the Washington Times, the law firm, Arnold & Porter LLP, based in Washington D.C. will delve into the matter of last year’s firing of eight federal prosecutors by the Department of Justice.

More below:

The Washington Times article goes on to state that Arnold & Porter LLP will subcontract with another law firm, Deloitte & Touche in order to:

“…assist Democratic members of the Committee on the Judiciary with issues related to the termination of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration, possible misrepresentations to Congress, interfering with investigations and matter related thereto."

The contract will augment the committee’s 30-paid staff positions, not including subcommittee member’s staff, for a sum of money not to exceed $25,000 per month, plus authorized traveling expenses. The contract is set to expire December 31, 2007. A partner at Arnold & Porter will be “principally responsible” for contract operations.

The contract also specifies that attorney Michael Zeldin, a former special prosecutor in the early 1990’s, and David K. Gilles, (no link) a former Treasury Department official will act as part of the House investigation.

From the article:

Republicans denounced the move as "scandal-mongering."

"It doesn't take a quarter-million dollars and an army of lawyers to conclude that U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, unless you're a Democrat with a political dog-and-pony show to produce," said Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

"If the goal is to distract from the fact that Democrats have no long-term agenda, they're going to need an outside PR firm, not lawyers," Mr. Kennedy said.

Illinois Democrat, Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, responded to the allegations, defending Rep. Conyers decision.

"He has said to the White House, 'We want the truth. Help us,'" said Mr. Emmanuel, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus. "Our goal here is to get to the truth, and every day is a new day when it comes to the White House and their story."

Comments from both the White House and the House Judiciary Committee were not forthcoming.

All I can say is if Republicans think that a couple of tenacious bulldogs like Conyers and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca) are going to let go of these scandals, they’re in for a big letdown.

If Waxman’s contentious hearing on GSA-gate held today is any indication… (the Republicans were downright vitriolic)

… hang on to your “party” hats, people. The next 18-months are going to be verrrrrrry interesting.