Grassley calls for DOJ investigation

Moonlight FireFrom Press Release


U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Mike Lee (R-UT) today called on the Justice Department to investigate allegations of misconduct by federal prosecutors in cases related to the 2007 Moonlight Fire in California.  The officials in question allegedly failed to provide relevant information in the cases, retaliated against a colleague who disclosed documents that were originally withheld and targeted prosecutions for the sole purpose of raising revenue.

According to media reports, officials from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California made false statements, withheld 5,000 pages of information and failed to correct a calculation error that would have reduced potential liability in another case by $10 million. The lead investigator claims to have been removed from the case after disclosing documents that were withheld. Another federal prosecutor alleged that the investigation was directed squarely at raising revenue.  Plaintiffs in a state court case were ordered to pay more than $32 million in attorney fees as a result of the potentially corrupt practices, and a $55 million settlement that was reached in 2012 in a federal case may be overturned.

“Accountability for prosecutors fulfills a basic expectation from the general public that the government will be held to the same standards as everyone else.  If anything, United States investigators and prosecutors—who occupy positions of public trust and exercise significant discretion afforded them in enforcing the law—should be held to a higher standard,” the senators wrote in a letter to Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

The letter follows Grassley’s correspondences last September to the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and the Government Accountability Office questioning oversight and discipline practices of U.S. Attorney’s Office staff who may have broken the law.

A signed copy of the letter is available here.