Campaign for Accountability Files Ethics Complaint Against House Intel Chair Nunes for Leaking Confidential Information
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (“CfA”), a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”) to investigate whether Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and/or staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“HPSCI”), acting at his direction, violated House ethics rules by leaking confidential information provided to the committee during the course of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “In violation of the intelligence committee’s rules, Rep. Nunes abused his chairmanship by deliberately leaking confidential information in an effort to retaliate against Fusion GPS for its role in creating the so-called Steele Dossier. The Office of Congressional Ethics should investigate Rep. Nunes’ conduct and hold him accountable.”
Last week, following a full HPSCI vote, the committee released transcripts of testimony provided by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Before the committee released the transcripts, Rep. Nunes leaked the name of Fusion’s bank, information from Simpson’s testimony, and information from the depositions of Simpson’s partners to the press.
Specifically, the Department of Justice demoted Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr after Rep. Nunes revealed that Ohr met with Simpson and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier. Mr. Simpson, as it happens, had provided information about his meeting with Mr. Ohr during his confidential voluntary interview with the HPSCI.
Similarly, committee staff told Fox News that Mr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie H. Ohr, had worked as a subcontractor to Fusion GPS in the summer and fall of 2016. Before Fusion’s bank records had been produced to HPSCI, the work of Ms. Ohr, a former American government official with expertise in matters pertaining to Russia, had not been public.
Someone from the committee also leaked information about the October 18, 2017 depositions of Fusion partners Peter Fritsch and Tom Catan to a Wall Street Journal editorial writer who published a column revealing details of the discussion.
HPSCI rules specifically prohibit members of the committee and committee staff from discussing, disclosing, or causing to be discussed or disclosed “the substance of any hearing that was closed to the public . . .”
In a case directly on point, in 2006, the House ethics committee found then Rep. James McDermott (D-WA), had violated that committee’s confidentiality rules by leaking the tape of a conversation between members about then House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s ethics problems. The committee found that by making “secretive disclosures to the news media,” “Rep. McDermott’s actions were not consistent with the spirit of the Committee’s rules.”
Stevens continued, “Abusing a position of public trust to issue subpoenas and selectively release information aimed at creating a false narrative for the purpose of discrediting political enemies is something we expect out of the Russian government, not an American member of Congress. The Office of Congressional Ethics should come down hard on Rep. Nunes for his appalling conduct.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.