Sloan told TheDC that CREW doesn’t have any evidence to suggest that Issa or his staff called any reporters — including Strong — to plant the story after he put the document in the congressional record, and that her group is basing the complaint on pure speculation.
“It’s not as if Issa was previously putting information regarding Fast and Furious in the congressional record,” Sloan said in a phone interview. “Jonathan Strong had a story pretty fast because he was tweeting, as we put in our letter to the Justice Department, he had a tweet at 9 in the morning.”
When pressed on whether Strong could have dug through the document on his own, Sloan said “he may have.”
“I’m not saying that he didn’t, but it seems like an abnormal way to go about an investigation,” Sloan said. “Clearly, there isn’t any question that Issa did it to avoid prosecution by shielding himself by the speech or debate clause because that’s really the reason why you’d do that.”
“Our point is it’s clearly illegal to release information like this, and you open yourself up to contempt charge if you do it,” she added. “If you release it into the congressional record, the speech or debate clause will protect you from prosecution. But the clause does not protect you from House disciplinary action.”
Sloan said that for the Office of Congressional Ethics complaint, it doesn’t matter “whether or not a reporter was tipped off.”
“For the ethics investigation, the main point is: you took information that was under seal and you disclosed it,” she said.
“If there are laws and ways that we have in accessing public documents, then those laws need to be upheld and certainly members of Congress are people who are violating them,” Sloan said in explaining her group’s complaints against Issa.
As for the Justice Department complaint, Sloan said she doesn’t “think it’ll ever happen.”
“Given the political climate, while I think Justice should investigate, they’re not going to prosecute this,” she said.
But, Sloan said, “I think that OCE [Office of Congressional Ethics] will do something about it.”
Strong was unavailable for comment for this story.