CFIF Files Ethics Complaint Against Minority Leader Reid

Complaint says Minority Leader broke Senate Rules by referening confidential FBI report in public.

May 13, 2005
Contact: Jeffrey Mazzella or Marshall Manson

CFIF Files Ethics Complaint Against Senate Minority Leader Reid

Alexandria, VA The Center for Individual Freedom today filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee charging Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with blatantly violating the Standing Rules of the Senate.

The complaint stems from Senator Reid’s public reference to a confidential FBI background report in disparaging comments he made about Judge Henry Saad, a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Specifically, Senator Reid stated yesterday on the Senate floor: “Henry Saad would have been filibustered anyway. He’s one of those nominees. All you need to do is have a Member go upstairs and look at his confidential report from the FBI, and I think we would all agree there is a problem there.”  His comments violate Section 5 of Rule XXIX of the Senate’s Standing Rules, which protects the secrecy of confidential Senate business and proceedings, including privileged access to FBI background information.

“Minority Leader Reid apparently has no regard for longstanding Senate rules that ensure civility and protect the integrity of the Senate,” said CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella.   “Reid’s vague and unsubstantiated reference to the contents of a confidential FBI report was a desperate attempt to smear Judge Saad’s name to score political points and further obstruct his confirmation.” 

Section 5 of Rule XXIX of the Standing Rules of the Senate states: “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.”

“Senator Reid chose to recklessly ignore longstanding Senate rules in order to further the Minority’s unprecedented campaign of obstruction against President Bush’s judicial nominees,” said Mazzella.  “Through innuendo, Senator Reid has now resorted to character assassination of the worst kind in an indefensible effort to disgrace a sitting judge and nominee to the 6th Circuit. 

“Senator Reid should be ashamed of himself,” Mazzella continued.  “It’s the obligation of the Senate Ethics Committee to impose disciplinary action immediately.  Senator Reid’s deplorable conduct must not go unpunished,” concluded Mazzella.

The Center for Individual Freedom ( is a non-profit, non-partisan constitutional and free-market advocacy organization dedicated to protecting individual freedom and rights in the legal, legislative and educational arenas. Through its Confirmation Watch project, the Center has been a leader in pushing the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on judicial nominations.

[Posted May 17, 2005
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