By Peter Savodnik - 12/07/05 12:00 AM EST
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) had a letter pulled off her House and campaign websites yesterday, apparently because of ethics concerns, only hours after it had been posted.
The letter calling for change at the Census Bureau could be read on the website Monday but was gone yesterday morning.
It raised two possible problems, knowledgeable sources said: First, the fact that it appeared on both Miller’s House and campaign websites indicates that time and money officially slated for federal business had been channeled into political activity.
Second, and less important, the same sources said, the letter — posted under the headline “Letter of support of HJ Res 53 to your representative” — called for grassroots lobbying of other House members.
Miller’s press assistant, Katherine Miller, explained that it was removed after questions were raised about it.
“We just wanted to make sure we’re compliant with all the rules,” she said. “I don’t know if we broke any. We just wanted to make sure we’re complying.”
Brian Walsh, a Republican spokesman for the House Administration Committee, which oversees members’ offices, did not return messages.
Stan Brand, a former chief counsel to the House of Representatives and the House ethics committee, said there is always “some necessary crossover” between congressional and political activity, given that members’ lives in Washington and on the campaign trail are inevitably interwoven.
Brand predicted that “if it’s an isolated incident or a mistake, they probably wouldn’t do anything.”
Denise Mixon, the Democratic spokeswoman at the House Administration Committee, said that most members abide by the rules and that website problems usually stem from oversights.
In the letter in question, Miller argues that the Census Bureau should not count illegal immigrants.
“Every Election Day,” the letter states, “non-citizens dilute proper and proportional representation for American citizens due to the wording of the 14th Amendment, which states, ‘Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state. …’
“H.J. Res. 53 would correct this language by replacing the word ‘persons’ with the word ‘citizens.’”
Miller testified yesterday on illegal immigrants and the census at a hearing held by the House Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Federalism and the Census.
Republicans believe illegal immigration will figure prominently in the 2006 congressional elections. Miller won her second term in the 10th District, in eastern Michigan, with 69 percent of the vote in 2004.