News broke today that the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics is refusing to pursue Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who admitted to purposely breaking Senate rules by making confidential records public on then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time as a White House counsel. The documents were marked “Committee confidential,” meaning the public was not permitted to see them.
Judicial Watch’s September 2018 complaint to the chairman and co-chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics called for an investigation after Sen. Booker admitted to violating Senate rules in releasing the confidential material. Ethics Committee Chief Counsel and Staff Director Deborah Sue Mayer responded last week:
The Select Committee on Ethics (the Committee) has reviewed the complaint you filed against Senator Cory A. Booker, dated September 12, 2018. The Committee carefully evaluated the allegations in the complaint and, based on all the information before it, determined that no further action is appropriate. Thank you for your correspondence with the Committee.
Sen. Booker admitted breaking Senate rules when he issued a tweet on Friday, September 7 saying:
Weds—I broke committee rules by reading from “Committee confidential” docs.
Also, Sen. Booker then posted the following entry on his Facebook account on Sunday, September 9:
And the classification of many documents as “Committee confidential” is a sham… I willfully violate these sham rules. I fully accept any consequences that might arise from my actions including expulsion.
Judicial Watch noted in its complaint that Sen. Booker also uploaded “Committee confidential” records to a publicly accessible Dropbox account with the heading “Booker Confidential – Kavanaugh Hearing Documents”.
By violating the rules in releasing Committee confidential records, Sen. Booker appeared to have violated provisions 5 and/or 6 of Rule 29 of the Standing Rules of the Senate (Rev. Jan. 24, 2013), which stipulate that he should be subject to expulsion from the Senate:
- Any Senator, officer or employee of the Senate who shall disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate, including the business and proceedings of the committees, subcommittees and offices of the Senate shall be liable, if a Senator, to suffer expulsion from the body; and if an officer or employee, to dismissal from the service of the Senate, and to punishment for contempt.
- Whenever, by the request of the Senate or any committee thereof, any documents or papers shall be communicated to the Senate by the President or the head of any department relating to any matter pending in the Senate, the proceedings in regard to which are secret or confidential under the rules, said documents and papers shall be considered as confidential, and shall not be disclosed without leave of the Senate.
(See pp. 48-49: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CDOC-113sdoc18/pdf/CDOC-113sdoc18.pdf )
The Senate Ethics Committee is evenly split, with three Republicans and three Democrats. The Committee members are Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Brian Schatz (D-HI), James Risch (R-ID), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
“It is an absolute disgrace that the Senate Ethics Committee is giving Senator Booker a pass for willfully violating Senate rules by leaking confidential information to smear Justice Kavanaugh,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Senate continues the abuse of Kavanaugh and his family by refusing to act against a Senator who, pretending to be Spartacus, violated the rule of law and our Constitution in trying to destroy him.”