Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico pressured the U.S. attorney in their state to speed up indictments in a federal corruption investigation that involved at least one former Democratic state senator, according to two people familiar with the contacts.Okay, that's just creepy.
The alleged involvement of the two Republican lawmakers raises questions about possible violations of House of Representatives and Senate ethics rules and could taint the criminal investigation into the award of an $82 million courthouse contract.
The two people with knowledge of the incident said Domenici and Wilson intervened in mid-October, when Wilson was in a competitive re-election campaign that she won by 875 votes out of nearly 211,000 cast.
David Iglesias, who stepped down as U.S. attorney in New Mexico on Wednesday, told McClatchy Newspapers that he believed the Bush administration fired him Dec. 7 because he resisted the pressure to rush an indictment.
According to the two individuals, Domenici and Wilson called to press Iglesias for details of the case.
Wilson was curt after Iglesias was "non-responsive" to her questions about whether an indictment would be unsealed, said the two individuals, who asked not to be identified because they feared possible political repercussions. Rumors had spread throughout the New Mexico legal community that an indictment of at least one Democrat was sealed.
Domenici, who wasn't up for re-election, called about a week and a half later and was more persistent than Wilson, the people said. When Iglesias said an indictment wouldn't be handed down until at least December, the line went dead.
No one has been charged yet. Yesterday, the indefatigable Rep. John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, issued subpoenas to compel Iglesias, along with three more of the dismissed prosecutors, to testify before the judiciary subcommittee next week.
The judiciary subcommittee on administrative law authorized the subpoenas by a 7-0 vote. The five Republican members of the subcommittee didn't show up for the vote.Of course they didn't.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy, is "sending letters to the same four asking them to testify voluntary" next week as well.