It’s unfortunate that after receiving a federal grand jury subpoena, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) declined to mention it to her Senate campaign staff.
But it appears she also declined to share it with the Speaker of the House — and that’s a violation of House rules.
As we’ve seen most recently in the case of Rep. Bob Ney’s (R-OH) heavily-subpoenaed office (wham, bam, thank you and ma’am), any representative or staffer receiving a subpoena concerning any work-related issue must disclose it, and an announcement is subsequently published in the Congressional Record. It’s called “House Rule VIII,” and it’s cited in just about every disclosure.
Yet a search of the Record turns up no mention of a subpoena for Harris.
“The rule’s pretty clear,” Andrew Herman, a Washington, D.C. defense lawyer who specializes in congressional ethics and investigations, told me. “I don’t think this is a close question. She got subpoenaed, they’re investigating, it’s her obligation” to disclose the matter to the House leadership.
A spokesman in her Capitol Hill office referred my questions to Harris’ Florida campaign staff. There, a spokeswoman took a message and promised to look into the matter. My call to the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) wasn’t immediately returned.
If Harris indeed violated Rule VIII, she likely faces little more than a slap on the wrist. Violations of House rules are handled by the House Ethics Committee, which hasn’t shown a compulsion to do much enforcing of anything.