A watchdog group continues to call on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release documents from a four-year investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.). Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) previously filed Freedom of Information Act requests and administrative appeals seeking information about why the DOJ did not bring charges against Mollohan.
In 2006, the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an investigation on Mollohan and his connections to five non-profit organizations he created that were managed by close friends and real estate partners.
Mollohan allegedly directed more than $250 million in earmarks to the non-profits and its beneficiaries, which contributed at least $397,122 to his campaigns between 1997 and 2006.
The probe began after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney for D.C. in February of 2006 alleging that Mollohan failed to report millions in assets on his Financial Disclosure Form (FDR) in order to conceal cozy financial relationships with recipients of earmarks he had arranged. The complaint was based on a year-long investigation conducted by NLPC, directed by Chairman Ken Boehm.
Mollohan himself confirmed many elements of NLPC’s complaint on June 13, 2006 when he amended six years worth of FDRs (1999-2004), after denying for two months that his FDRs contained errors. He omitted more assets than he reported on his original filings, including his largest single asset, a note worth over $4 million.
“This is a unique corruption story because for the entire four years Mollohan was under investigation, he was on the Appropriations subcommittee that controlled the Justice Department and FBI,” Boehm said. “While he was under investigation, he should have stepped down because that’s a glaring conflict of interest.”
In January 2010, the United States Attorney’s Office for D.C. stated it closed the investigation into Mollohan’s conduct without bringing charges.
CREW’s Chief Counsel Anne Weismann said that Justice is no closer to disclosing the documents, and she predicts more delay. “I don’t expect the Department of Justice to handle our appeal. We’re waiting for our appeal to run out and then we will file a lawsuit.”
The DOJ’s Executive Office of the United States Attorneys refused to provide any documents relating to the Mollohan investigation, including documents that would state why the representative was not criminally charged. Earlier this spring, CREW filed an administrative appeal in response to the DOJ’s refusal. In May, CREW filed a second administrative appeal against the Criminal Division of the DOJ, claiming that it has no records pertaining to Mollohan’s investigation.
The Justice Department did not respond to phone calls or written questions.
“It seems like they [DOJ] really don’t want to turn over the investigation documents, and I think the fact that they refuse to turn the documents over is another red flag,” Boehm said. “CREW’s requests are very appropriate, so if this case turns over to the federal courts then I think there will be disclosure.”
Kristen Byrne is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter.