Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.) told the Washington Post that she had called a federal prosecutor to complain about the pace of his public corruption investigations. The Senate Ethics Committee signaled that it had opened a preliminary inquiry into a similar communication by her state’s senior senator, Pete V. Domenici (R). Wilson denied allegations from former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias that she pressured him to speed up a political corruption investigation involving Democrats in the last days of her tight election campaign last fall.
Iglesias, one of seven U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department on Dec. 7, is expected to tell Congress today that Wilson and Domenici were trying to sway the course of his investigation. The calls to Iglesias by Domenici and Wilson appear to put them in conflict with congressional ethics rules that bar contacts with federal agency officials during most active investigations. The furor over Domenici and Wilson has become the focus of the dispute over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and a change in law that allows Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to appoint interim prosecutors for an indefinite period of time. Most of the prosecutors cited positive job reviews, and Democrats alleged that there were political motivations behind the firings. “Each of us was fully aware that we served at the pleasure of the president, and that we could be removed for any or no reason,” six of the prosecutors said in a statement yesterday. “In most of our cases, we were given little or no information about the reason for the request for our resignations.”