Dems Inherit the Duke

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Much has been made of the Republicans’ gambit of passing the responsibility of several huge spending bills to the Democratic Congress, hoping to gum up the legislative works, but what of all those scandals they’re passing along?

At the House Appropriations Committee, the new chairman, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), had no sooner sat down and given his gavel a couple of test whacks before he was handed a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego demanding thousands of documents by January 11th. Even though prosecutors nailed Duke Cunningham, they continue to pursue the hanging threads of the investigation — namely whether the defense contractors who bribed him had their hooks into other lawmakers and/or staffers. Since Duke’s bad acts stretch back to at least 2000, it’s a giant headache.

Obey is grumpy about it:

“To ask us to produce that stuff by [Jan. 11] is ridiculous given the fact that we haven’t taken over yet and every record that we’re talking about is a Republican record so I have no idea what the documents are and it’s a Republican problem…. We will try to cooperate, but it’s a Republican problem.”

As Roll Call notes (sub. req.), the subpoenas will likely ignite another legal battle (round one was over the FBI’s raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) office, a battle that’s still raging) between Congress and the Justice Department, as they wrangle over which documents are constitutionally protected.