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Thursday, August 28, 2003

jail time for ashcroft?

so, attorney general john ashcroft is still in the full swing of his “charm offensive” and pushing for the “victory act” (that’s the “Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003”) as a follow up to the usa patriot act (that’s the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”).

[i’m saying this a lot lately…] i’m no lawyer. but i did dig this up , and it says:

“No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, to favor or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation or appropriation by Congress, whether before or after the introduction of any bill or resolution proposing such legislation or appropriation; but this shall not prevent officers or employees of the United States or of its departments or agencies from communicating to Members of Congress on the request of any Member or to Congress, through the proper official channels, requests for legislation or appropriations which they deem necessary for the efficient conduct of the public business.

Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, violates or attempts to violate this section, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and after notice and hearing by the superior officer vested with the power of removing him, shall be removed from office or employment.

i read this this way:
if ashcroft is spending congressionally-appropriated money on his victory tour, like, for example, he’s still being paid and not on vacation leave without pay these three weeks – or if he’s using justice department stationary, we’ve met the first criterion. and if congress didn’t authorize this tour (and i’ve seen nothing to suggest that this is a congressionally-authorized trip, but i could be wrong), that’s #2. and finally, since he’s talking about specific legislation – that being the victory act – that would certainly meet the standard (in my mind, anyway), of intent to influence congress to favor legislation.

of course, my opinion isn’t worth much, since this is a violation of the criminal code of the united states, i think the attorney general would have to decide if this is a prosecutable offense. whoups.

posted by roj at 3:29 am