The Office of Congressional Ethics was saved from the landfill — where House Republicans had tried to bury it — by public outcry and a couple of tweets from President-elect Donald Trump.
But few noticed a sentence that did make it into the package of House rules changes passed Tuesday, making it more difficult to access documents having to do with the operations of a lawmaker’s office.
“Records created, generated, or received by the congressional office of a Member … are exclusively the personal property of the individual Member [emphasis added]… and such Member … has control over such records.”
Who cares whether a congressional office’s budget documents, maintained at taxpayer expense, belong to each individual member, rather than Congress as a body?
Maybe the Justice Department, for one. In investigating allegations of public corruption or misuse of funds, criminal investigators frequently need to subpoena such records.