Lieberman Calls on White House to Provide List of All Contacts Regarding Missing Texas Legislators

WASHINGTON – Following another round of disturbing disclosures in the Texas redistricting scandal, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., today called on the White House to provide a list of all contacts with federal agencies seeking help in tracking down the missing state legislators.

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the Texas Department of Public Safety had requested assistance in finding the Democratic legislators who had left the state in protest of the Republican redistricting plan. Then late last week, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex., confirmed that his office had requested assistance from both the Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a letter sent today to White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, Lieberman said that while he had already asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the actions of the Texas Department of Public Safety, he would appreciate the White House’s cooperation in giving a full accounting of what other requests may have been made.

“It is completely unacceptable that any government official would think it appropriate to use federal taxpayer dollars to help one political party settle an intra-state partisan feud,” Lieberman wrote. “I am writing to ask you, as Chief of Staff to the President, to ensure that we have a complete picture of what happened, by determining whether any White House officer or employee or any officer or employee of any federal agency was contacted by anyone seeking information about or federal assistance in Texas’ search for Democratic legislators and whether any White House officer or employee or any federal agency officer or employee did anything in response to any such contact that occurred.

“If there were any such contacts, I would appreciate your providing me with a list of such contacts, who participated in them, when they occurred, the nature of the discussions and what, if any, action was taken as a result of them. If any White House official or employee contacted other federal agencies or employees on this issue, I would also like the same information about those contacts. Lieberman also asked the Justice and Transportation Departments today to investigate DeLay’s requests for assistance. In letters to the Inspectors General at the two departments, Lieberman said, “these actions raise serious questions about whether federal government resources were used, or sought to be used, to support one side in a local partisan political dispute.” In particular, Lieberman asked for the following information:

  • A list of all calls or other contacts between DeLay (or his staff) or any other person and any Justice or FAA employee seeking either assistance or information concerning the missing Texas legislators, including who initiated and received the call or contact, when the contact was made, and the substance of the contact;
  • a description of any actions the Justice Department or FAA or any of their employees took as a result of any contact with DeLay;
  • if any action was taken by any Justice or FAA employee, whether and to what extent the action was appropriate and within the mission of the agency.
  • to the extent any action by an employee of the Justice Department or FAA was inappropriate, the steps that are being taken to ensure that this does not happen again. The full texts of the three Lieberman letters can be found below.
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