WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., demanded answers Thursday from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on why department resources were used to track down Texas legislators embroiled in a bitter state feud over a proposed redistricting plan. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the department’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that one of its agencies – the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center based in Riverside, Calif. – had assisted Texas law enforcers in trying to locate a small plane owned by Rep. Peter Laney, the former Democratic speaker of the state House of Representatives.
“If this report is accurate, I am outraged that Homeland Security resources are being used to help settle partisan political scores,” Lieberman said. “It is inconceivable that anyone would waste scarce department resources for such an indefensible purpose at a time when police and firefighters around the country are being laid off because of tight state budgets and insufficient federal aid.
Lieberman asked Secretary Ridge for a full investigation of the incident. “I want to hear from whoever it was who thought the department’s mission includes assisting the Republican party of Texas in a party dispute. How involved were department personnel and what steps will be taken to ensure that something like this never happens again?”
Democratic legislators in Texas fled the state this week to avoid having to vote on a Republican redistricting plan that replaced one crafted by an impartial, three-judge panel.