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May 3, 2009

EDITORIAL: Pelosi Confronts Justice:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working to buffer lawmakers from federal investigators. This is a bad idea. Special legal protections for politicians encourage unethical conduct.

Irvin B. Nathan, general counsel of the House of Representatives, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday about establishing a protocol on how to handle “hopefully rare searches and electronic surveillance involving members of Congress.” Mr. Nathan previously failed to negotiate such an agreement with the George W. Bush administration when Republicans controlled the House. His return to this effort isn’t surprising given the number of congressional Democrats facing accusations of ethical misconduct.

Democrats facing scrutiny include the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, for his close ties to the defense lobby firm PMA Group, which is under federal investigation; House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel of New York about a number of tax issues; Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois over his reported effort to persuade ousted Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich to appoint him to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat; and Rep. Jane Harman of California, who reportedly was taped in 2005 by the National Security Agency purportedly agreeing to help seek leniency for two accused Israeli spies in exchange for help in lobbying her appointment to chair the House Intelligence Committee.

And don’t forget Pete Visclosky, Jim Moran, Allen Mollohan, etc. I know, I know — there are so many it’s hard to keep track!

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