Countdown's Keith Olbermann talked to CREW's Melania Sloan about their recent ethics complaint against Louisiana Senator David Vitter, this time for attempting to bribe Secretary Ken Salazar by tying his pay raise to approving permits for offshore
Countdown's Keith Olbermann talked to CREW's Melania Sloan about their recent ethics complaint against Louisiana Senator David Vitter, this time for attempting to bribe Secretary Ken Salazar by tying his pay raise to approving permits for offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) may have gone too far when he demanded President Barack Obama's Interior secretary approve deepwater oil well permits in exchange for a salary increase.
CREW filed a complaint (PDF) Tuesday calling for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate Vitter for bribery.
In a May 23 letter (PDF) to Secretary Ken Salazar, Vitter was clear that he would not vote for a pay raise until the Department of Interior began issuing six deepwater exploratory permits each month.
"Last Friday, I was asked to support legislation in the Senate to grant you a nearly $20,000 salary increase," Vitter wrote. "Given the completely unsatisfactory pace of your department's issuance of new deepwater exploratory permits in the Gulf, I cannot possibly give my assent."
"[W]hen the rate of permits issued for new deepwater exploratory wells reaches pre-moratorium levels (so 6 per month), I will end my efforts to block your salary increase."
For his part, Salazar quickly turned down the offer, asking that the pay bill be withdrawn. [...]
The federal bribery statute states that "[w]hoever directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official... to influence any official act" could faces fines, up to two years in prison or both.
Vitter's office has dared the Justice Department to file charges.
"I urge the Obama administration to prosecute," Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar told Politico. "They'll make fools of themselves in court and make my boss a Louisiana folk hero at the same time."
"Whether it is a defense contractor buying French furniture for a congressman in exchange for earmarks, or a senator who ties a department secretary’s pay raise to approving permits, bribery is bribery," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement Tuesday.