By Gautham Nagesh - 07/20/11 07:50 PM EDT
Sens. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDems gain upper hand on budget Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (D-Calif.) asked Dow Jones for more information on the hiring of former CEO Les Hinton, who resigned in the wake of the phone-hacking and bribery scandal enveloping Dow parent company News Corp.
"We were pleased to learn that the Special Committee will take steps to ensure that no illegal activity took place at Dow Jones and Company publications," the senators wrote in a letter to a board, known as the Special Committee, that was set up to oversee the news organization after it was sold to News Corp.
"But we were surprised that the Committee’s statement appears to foreclose any further investigation, despite the fact that the former chief executive officer of Dow Jones and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal served as the top official at News International while illegal phone hacking occurred at its newspapers."
From 1995 until 2007 Hinton served as the executive chairman of News International, which housed a number of foreign News Corp. publications, including the recently shuttered News of the World. The British tabloid was closed last Sunday after reports it hacked voicemail accounts and bribed police.
Hinton was hired as publisher of The Wall Street Journal and CEO of Dow Jones in 2007 following News Corp.'s purchase of the paper from the Bancroft family. He resigned on Friday, joining former NotW editor and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks as a casualty of the scandal.
The senators note Hinton testified in front of Parliament in 2007 and again in 2009, where he said a company investigation concluded the phone hacking never spread beyond imprisoned NotW reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Hinton admitted to authorizing payments to both men after they had been sentenced for their role in illegal phone hacking. The senators argue recent reports that the tabloid hacked as many as 4,000 people have called Hinton's previous testimony into question.
They ask the members of the Special Committee whether they will conduct a broader investigation into whether any current or former Dow Jones or Wall Street Journal executives played a role in the alleged criminal activities or whether the committee probed Hinton's involvement before his hiring.
They also ask if any Special Committee members or senior executives expressed concern about Hinton's hiring, given his role at News International during the alleged phone hacking.
"This information will help give Americans confidence that the illegal activity that appears to have taken place at News Corporation in the United Kingdom did not spread to News Corporation entities in the United States," the senators write.