September 07, 2011

CREW to Congress: Clean Up the Government

By Jeremy Miller

With Congress now back in session, CREW took the opportunity to write to Reps. James Sensenbrenner and Bobby Scott, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, urging passage of H.R. 2572, the “Clean Up Government Act.”  This legislation would provide critical reforms in response to several badly decided court decisions that have eviscerated federal bribery laws. 

Today’s letter specifically responds to critics who succeeded in sowing seeds of confusion at a recent hearing, thereby threatening hopes for passage.  Claims to the contrary, like its counterpart in the Senate, H.R. 2572 directly addresses concerns over overcriminalization and prosecutorial abuse because of vagueness and lack of clarity in the earlier version of the honest services statute (§ 1346).  For decades the honest services statute served as one of the most valuable tools to prosecute public officials who engage in corrupt acts such as undisclosed self-dealing.  In the wake of Skilling v. United States, however, a vast swath of public corruption is effectively legal.  

Joining CREW’s letter today was Democracy 21, Campaign Legal Center, U.S. PIRG, Public Citizen, Common Cause and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).  You can read the letter here.

We once again applaud Chairman Sensenbrenner, along with original cosponsor Rep. Quigley, for their critical leadership on this issue and strongly urge passage prior to the end of this congressional session.

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