Today, John McKay, the former U.S. attorney in Washington, revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Rep. Doc Hastings’s (R-WA) office contacted him and attempted to pressure him in an ongoing investigation.
Shortly after the 2004 elections, McKay received a call from Ed Cassidy, Hastings’s chief of staff, on behalf of the congressman. Cassidy was inquiring about McKay’s investigation of voter fraud in the hotly contested 2004 gubernatorial election, which had been certified in favor of the Democratic candidate. McKay said that Cassidy asked him about “future action” in the case, but ended the call “in a most expeditious fashion” when McKay pointed out that it is “improper” for a lawmaker to lobby a U.S. attorney on an ongoing investigation. Watch it:
House rules prohibit members “from contacting executive or agency officials regarding the merits of matters under their formal consideration.” Nevertheless, Cassidy now advises House Minority Leader John Boehner on congressional ethics.
Earlier today, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias also publicly detailed how Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) pressured him in an investigation.
UPDATE: TPM has more.
FEINSTEIN: Mr. McKay, did any member of Congress, or their staff, contact you regarding decisions your office was making, whether to conduct an investigation?
FEINSTEIN: Were you ever contacted by a member of Congress or their staff about the status of the Washington gubernatorial election?
McKAY: Yes, senator.
FEINSTEIN: Who, or what, was the outcome of those contacts?
McKAY: Senator, at some weeks following the 2004 governor’s election in the state of Washington, I received a phone call from the chief of staff to Rep. Doc Hastings of Richland, Washington. The governor’s election had at that time been certified in favor of the Democratic candidate on a third recount by something around 200 votes out of millions cast.
I was told the purpose of the call was to inquire on behalf of the Congressman regarding the status of any federal investigation into the election. I advised Representative Hastings chief of staff of the publicly available information, and that was that the Seattle field office of the FBI and my then office of the US attorney for the western district of Washington was requesting anyone with information about voter fraud to immediately contact the bureau. When the chief of staff began to press me on any future actions by the United States on the election —
FEINSTEIN: Excuse me, who was the chief of staff that called?
McKAY: The chief of staff’s name, it is Ed Cassidy. I understand he’s no longer the chief of staff. When Mr. Cassidy called me on future action, I told him, I stopped him, I told him that I was sure he wasn’t asking me on behalf of his boss to reveal information about an ongoing investigation or to lobby me on one, because we both knew that would be improper. He agreed that it would be improper and ended the conversation in a most expeditious fashion.
I was concerned and dismayed by the call. I immediately summoned the first assistant United States attorney and the criminal chief for my office into my office, and I briefed them on the details of the call. We all agreed that I stopped Mr. Cassidy before he entered clearly inappropriate territory, and it was not necessary to take the matter any further.