In a move sure to inflame House Republicans, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is organizing a group of House Democrats to post her 122-page report alleging Republican corruption on their congressional websites, flouting Republican charges that the document is too political to appear on such sites and that doing so amounts to a violation of House rules.
Less than a month ago, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) removed the report from her House website after Republicans said it violated House rules that ban political documents from being distributed at taxpayer expense.
Pelosi’s office at the time denied that it had bowed to political pressure, arguing instead that it had removed the document as part of a “normal rotation” of reports competing for the same online real estate.
Undeterred by the removal from Pelosi’s site, Slaughter began approaching members on the House floor several weeks ago to build support for posting the report, “America for Sale: The Costs of Republican Corruption,” on multiple congressional sites.
Her communications director, Eric Burns, wrote to approximately 30 member offices earlier this week to solicit support.
“We want to send a message to House Republicans and to the American people that the DeLay-style tactics of retribution and suppression will no longer work in the people’s House,” Burns wrote. “The best way for us to do that is to have as many members as possible post this report on their websites in an attempt to ensure that as many of our constituents as possible have the opportunity to read this valuable report.”
It was unclear how many offices planned to participate.
Not surprisingly, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Slaughter’s chief foe in the dispute, took a dim view of the planned action.
“Apparently they are not content being the party of hypocrisy; they also have to be the party of lawlessness,” said NRCC spokesman Ed Patru. “They want to make this campaign about ethics at the same time they are using taxpayer funds, resources and time to produce political campaign talking points and fundraising pitches. I would not be surprised to see members file complaints.”
Ethics rules prohibit members of Congress from using their offices for political purposes, but Slaughter and the NRCC disagree on whether the document is political.
Contacted yesterday, Burns defended the report.
Slaughter, he said, is “not going to be intimidated by Republicans trying to suppress things they don’t like. Nothing could be more germane than a report about how Republicans are leading the Congress.”
A spokesman for Pelosi said she would have no problem with members’ posting the report and is not concerned about Republican threats to file ethics complaints.
Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (S.C.) said he was checking with staff to see if his office would post the report.
“Personally, I see nothing wrong with it,” he said. “If you want the facts to support what we’re saying on and off the floor, I don’t know what’s wrong with it.”