GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Committee

It's been over a year since New Mexico's longtime Republican Senator Pete Domenici was implicated in the prosecutor purge scandal -- a scandal that in no small part helped lead to his decision to retire rather than run for reelection -- but now the chickens are really coming home to roost: Domenici has been admonished by the Senate ethics panel.

The Senate Ethics Committee today issued GOP Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico a "public letter of qualified admonition" for his involvement in the Justice Department's firing of several US Attorneys last year. It was a scandal that helped lead to the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

In March of 2007, former US Attorney David Iglesias testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Domenici had called him at home asking about an ongoing investigation of Democrats in the senator's home state of New Mexico. Iglesias said Domenici wanted to know the timing of indictments.

According to the transcript from the hearing, the US Attorney said the senator asked, "'Are these going to be filed before November?' And I said I didn't think so, to which [Domenici] replied, 'I'm very sorry to hear that.'" Iglesias then said, "the line went dead."

Domenici later apologized for the call, but said he did not pressure Iglesias to move on the case. The 75-year-old senator has since announced his retirement saying he was diagnosed with a dementia type brain ailment.  

The committee said it "finds no substantial evidence to determine that you attempted to improperly influence an ongoing investigation." But it did find that Domenici should have known his actions "created an appearance of impropriety that reflected unfavorable on the Senate."

It's not clear what, if any impact this news would have at this point; Democratic Congressman Tom Udall already appears on the inside track to replacing Domenici in the Senate despite Republican hopes of either Congresswoman Heather Wilson or Congressman Steve Pearce winning the New Mexico Senate race in November. Nevertheless, this news does at least round out the story and suggest that a United States Senator cannot attempt to bully a United States Attorney for political reasons and get away unscathed, either in the electoral realm (with Domenici not running for reelection) or in the public realm (with Domenici being publicly admonished by the Senate).

Tags: New Mexico, NM-Sen, Pete Domenici, Prosecutor Purge (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

Re: GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Com

Hit, but not hit hard.

I passed Domenici in the Senate basement hallway the other day. I'm a fan of beards - I love Chuck Todd's and approve of Bill Richardson's - but Domenici's beard looks like poop on his chin.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-04-25 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Com

The older you get, the less you care what anyone thinks about how you look.  That's how you end up wandering the Senate halls in your pajamas.

by Steve M 2008-04-25 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Com

The man's dying of an incurable brain disease: give him a break. We're already getting his Senate seat.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-04-25 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Com

He's getting a break by not going to jail.

At least show him as much disrespect as you would the Democratic nominee, Obama.

by Kobi 2008-04-25 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Com

In that case, bury him alive.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-04-25 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Sen. Domenici Hit By the Senate Ethics Com

That's fair; I shouldn't have made the comment, it was a low blow. This is the one TR myddfan has given me that I probably deserve.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-04-27 07:43AM | 0 recs
Whoa!

a "public letter of qualified admonition."

And he's still breathing?  Wow.  What a resilient guy.

by Thaddeus 2008-04-25 01:40PM | 0 recs
Can He Be Tied To Reverend Wright? (nt)

by bernardpliers 2008-04-25 01:49PM | 0 recs
does this clear the way for

Gonzo to start getting prosecuted in this? for the house to move on "inherent contempt" for Rove, Meirs, and Bolton?  He can still be prosecuted, I think, after leaving office.

In anycase, one more leg kicked out from under bushco's reign of terror.

by 4justice 2008-04-25 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: does this clear the way for

You forget that Democrats, thanks to Schumer, allowed Bush to replace Gonzo with the Lord Protector Mukasey who will never prosecute anyone in that regime.

by Kobi 2008-04-25 02:39PM | 0 recs
Yes, Obama was one of several

democrats who let Mukasey in.

by 4justice 2008-04-25 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, Obama was one of several

Big mistake.

by Kobi 2008-04-26 08:31AM | 0 recs
I'm stunned!

A front page diary that doesn't attack the Democratic nominee!

Good work once again, Jonathan. Without your objectivity this blog would be a sewer rather than just a toilet.

by Kobi 2008-04-25 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Sen. Domenici
Well, he got a stern letter. Big whoop.
Now if we could just wrap this around Heather Wilson and drown her in a bathtub with it, I'd be happy.
by skohayes 2008-04-25 03:01PM | 0 recs
Sternly worded slap on the wrist coming right up:(

by heresjohnny 2008-04-25 03:59PM | 0 recs
And what's the matter with Wilson?

She is the one who was supposed to be helped with these actions, and her behaviour was not better, and she is still politically active, is even looking for a promotion!!!

Any word on action from the House Ethics Committee??

by micha1976 2008-04-26 01:28AM | 0 recs

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