The House inquiry into campaign fund-raising abuses was thrown into turmoil Tuesday when the committee’s chief lawyer abruptly resigned, complaining he wasn’t given the authority to run a “professional, credible investigation.”
At least one other investigator for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee also quit in support of chief counsel John P. Rowley.
In his letter, Rowley said he came to the committee “with the intention of running a professional, credible investigation” but said he concluded he had not been “given the authority necessary” to meet that goal.
Rowley, a former federal prosecutor, blamed the senior committee aide who oversees the investigative staff, Dave Bossie, for his departure. Bossie was not available for comment Tuesday night, his office said.
“Due to the unrelenting ‘self-promoting’ actions of the committee’s investigative coordinator, I have been unable to implement the standards of professional conduct I have been accustomed to at the United States attorney’s office,” Rowley wrote Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind.
Committee spokesman Will Dwyer said the staff of some 40 other lawyers and investigators would not be affected.
Nonetheless, it was another blow for a committee already struck by allegations of improper fund-raising practices against its own chairman.
Burton came under investigation by a federal grand jury in March after a former lobbyist for Pakistan accused Burton of threatening his livelihood after he failed to meet the lawmaker’s fund-raising goals among Pakistani-Americans. Burton has denied that allegation.
Bossie has attracted criticism in the past from Democrats who see him as overly partisan. Before he was hired by Burton, Bossie helped write a book and start a newsletter critical of President Clinton.
Investigator Ed Timperlake also resigned on Tuesday, saying “I completely trust the integrity, judgment and leadership” of Rowley.
Rowley joined the committee six months ago as the lead counsel investigating allegations of foreign donations to the Democratic National Committee and other fund-raising abuses during the 1996 election.
A Senate committee also investigating fund raising is set to begin its hearings next Tuesday.
No date has been set for hearings in the House.
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