Thirteen Congressmen, Thirteen Subpoenas

Anybody who watches Countdown with Keith Olbermann regularly has seen his recurring feature, the Apology Hall of Fame.  In it, the snivelling apology of Congressman federal prisoner Randy “Duke” Cunningham always holds a prominent place.  And well it should.  He’s arguably “the most corrupt Congressman in history”.  (Or at least, right up there.)

Most of that corruption was in conjunction with defense contractor Brent Wilkes.  Wilkes’s criminal trial is coming up, and his defense attorneys have issued subpoenas to 13 sitting Congressmen to appear as witnesses in the trial.  Nine of the 13 are Republicans.

All of them, in consultation with House attorneys, will not honor the subpoenas.  Call me old fashioned, but I always thought subpoenas weren’t optional.  Like if you don’t show up, you’re in contempt of court.  And can get your ass thrown in jail.  But maybe they’re all looking to the White House, and modelling their behavior on that…

The article’s by Erica Werner of the AP:

The subpoenas were sought by attorneys for contractor Brent Wilkes, who faces a trial in San Diego later this year on more than 30 counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in connection with his relationship with Cunningham.

So, here’s the “baker’s dozen”:

  • Dennis Hastert
  • Roy Blunt
  • Duncan Hunter
  • Gary Miller
  • John Doolittle
  • Darryl Issa
  • Peter Hoekstra
  • Joe Knollenberg
  • Norm Dicks
  • Silvestre Reyes
  • Ike Skelton
  • John Murtha
  • The last 4 are the Dems.  Presumably the reason for these witnesses has to do with the appropriations process. 

    “This subpoena is a mystery,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who represents a district near Cunningham’s. “I have no knowledge of information pertaining to the charges pending against Mr. Wilkes that would aid either the defense or the prosecution in this case.”

    Now I’m no lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV, but so far as I know,  that’s no excuse to ignore a subpoena.

    I suppose that Katherine “Cruella” Harris isn’t on this list because, poor dear, she finally had her illusions shattered when her challenge for Bill Nelson’s Senate seat in Florida went down like the Hindenberg.  She’s no longer in Congress.  But there were a lot of questions about her donations from and favors for Mr. Wilkes as well.  So, perhaps she’ll turn up on the witness list, too.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts.


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    1. this afternoon. For the life of me, I can’t understand how they can simply “choose” to ignore a subpoena. Can an ordinary citizen choose to do this? I think not, not at least without legal consequences.  Are there to be no consequences for Senators and Congresspersons? How is this possible? How can we ever hope for justice if they can get away with this?

      • pico on September 18, 2007 at 20:50

      Considering the outrage we’re trying to build over the Administration’s refusal to obey Congressional subpoenas, here we have four Democrats – including big dog John Murtha – doing the exact same thing.  I expect this from Republicans, and though cynically I expect this from Democrats, too, that doesn’t mean I’m not more pissed at our Democrats for the rank hypocrisy. 

      Will the Democratic leadership come out in support of the subpoenas and pressure its members into compliance?  Should I hold my breath?

      • lulu57 on September 18, 2007 at 21:28

      it’s against House rules to comply? Weird. Here’s the quote:

      It’s not clear what the method is behind the madness. Wilkes’ lawyers didn’t respond to the AP’s calls and the lawmakers say the subpoena comes out of left field. They also say that they’ve been advised by the counsel that it would be against House rules for them to comply.

      I didn’t realize they had special rules about being subpoened.

    2. It seems likely to me that the recipients will move to quash, not simply ignore the subpoenas altogether.

      The House rules they’re citing may hinge on some theory involving separation of powers, or perhaps the Speech and Debate Clause. 

        • LoE on September 18, 2007 at 20:51

        …upon how good you look in blue.  (On your last question, that is…)

        • TexDem on September 18, 2007 at 20:54

        We don’t know the motivations of Cunningham’s attorney(s) yet.

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