After The Senate Ethics Panel criticized US Sen. Pete Domenici for his inappropriate phone call to former US Attorney David Iglesias , it kind of seemed--at least to me--that the time was ripe for US Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, to bring up the issue as it relates to US Rep. Heather Wilson, R-NM, as the two battle in one of the most closely-watched primaries in the US.
According to Pearce's campaign, they have no intention of making this an issue. Spokesman Brian Phillips told me, "My feeling is we've got better things to talk about. We're going to talk about the issues."
Boring. Whether or not US Rep. Tom Udall, D-NM, will bring it up if Wilson wins the primary--and the two face off for the general--is yet to be seen. Udall's office also issued me a no comment when I asked if the third-district congressman had any thoughts on the Domenici ruling or Wilson's role in the Iglesias situation.
Iglesias, himself, however, does have a few thoughts. His book, In Justice , due out next month, explores his role in the eye of the US Attorney scandal. I e-mailed Iglesias and asked him a few questions on the topic. Here's our exchange:
1. Were you satisfied with the ruling on Domenici and do you think it would have been different if he hadn't announced he wasn't running for re-election?
"Yes, it was in the ballpark of what I was expecting. Given the fact that Senator Larry Craig received only slightly more serious punishment (public letter of admonition versus a public letter of qualified admonition) for pleading guilty to a crime, I thought the overall result was about right. Remember also, the Senate Ethics Committee only considered Domenici's call to me, nothing else, not Heather's call, not the other firings, etc. I think had Domenici not announced his retirement, his rebuke would have been unqualfied instead of "qualified" as it was termed by the Ethics Committee."
2. Are you hoping for stronger censure against Wilson and do you have any reason to think some might be forthcoming? Do you expect her role in the US Attorney Scandal to affect her re-election bid?
"I am hoping for a public, written rebuke or reprimand for her attempt to wrest highly confidential information from me. No one outside a prosecutor's office has any business knowing about the timing or contents of a sealed indictment. The problem with the House is that a House member has to file the ethics complaint, unlike the Senate where a third party can file one which is what CREW did against Domenici. Yes, her role in the scandal has already been made an issue. According to a friend of mine who went to a fundraiser for Steve Pearce, there were 3 allusions made to the scandal by Pearce in his stump speech. The comments were that this was one more reason Heather was unelectable."
When I re-questioned Phillips (one other person, off the record, also told me they had heard Pearce was talking about the issue), he sent me back this message, via Blackberry
Pearce has certainly been asked about it at events, both private and public. And as he does with every question, he goes straight at it and answers it honestly. But, as I said, there is enough in Ms. Wilson's voting record to bring up without going into those other issues.
It makes sense that Pearce doesn't want to attack Wilson on this issue, at least overtly. Both Pearce and Wilson are, after all, competing to win over former Domenici voters, who tend to be very loyal to the outgoing senator. Attacking Wilson could be seen as attacking Domenici, given that they both committed a pretty similar act.
Wilson's campaign also had no comment (yawn), although her congressional office has reportedly said it has received no word on a complaint against her in the House Ethics Committee.