News & Events

Courthouse News Service quotes Bill Pittard regarding his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism

Based on his experience as the Acting General Counsel of the House of Representatives, partner Bill Pittard testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism about criminal investigations of congressional staff.

Often congressional staffers are public servants without substantial means. They can be particularly vulnerable to the costs of a protracted criminal investigation. The Senate Committee was concerned that an executive branch agency could chill congressional oversight merely by threatening to investigate a staffer on the Hill.

An article in the Courthouse News Service, reporting on the hearing, quoted Pittard’s testimony that “congressional staff members are especially vulnerable to aggressive charges from the agencies they investigate because they typically make low or moderate income and rely on the executive branch for security clearances necessary to advance their careers.”

The Subcommittee is considering ways to resolve this problem. Pittard suggested providing a mechanism for Congress to pay the legal fees of a job-related investigation by an executive branch agency, or changing congressional ethics rules to allow staffers to receive pro bono assistance.