WASHINGTON – Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley joined Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) in reintroducing the Inspector General Access Act of 2019 to expand the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General to include alleged DOJ attorney misconduct. The bill is also cosponsored by Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“Federal prosecutors wield tremendous authority to enforce our laws. Any abuse of that authority should be thoroughly and independently investigated to uphold the public trust. Leaving those investigations to other Department attorneys opens the door to real or perceived conflicts of interest, which must be avoided. The Inspector General Access Act ensures that allegations of misconduct by DOJ lawyers are reviewed by independent department watchdogs instead of other DOJ attorneys,” Grassley said.
“Our federal government inspectors general do a valuable job providing the information voters and lawmakers need to hold federal government agencies accountable,” Sen. Lee said. “Unfortunately, the Department of Justice OIG currently does not have the power to review the conduct of DOJ attorneys, an oversight which this legislation corrects.”
“The American people rightly expect that all government employees, including federal prosecutors, are held to the highest ethical and professional standards,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) “To that end, our nation’s inspectors general provide an important public service by making sure Congress has all the information it needs to hold agencies accountable. It simply doesn’t make sense that current law excludes the conduct of DOJ attorneys from the same level of accountability.”
“Inspectors General play an integral role in independently evaluating and investigating alleged instances of waste, fraud, and abuse across federal government agencies and programs, including allegations of employee misconduct,” Rubio said. “However, current law does not allow the DOJ Inspector General to review the conduct of DOJ attorneys. This bill rectifies that by providing the DOJ Inspector General with the appropriate authority to independently and transparently evaluate allegations of misconduct by DOJ attorneys.”
The Inspector General Access Act solves the problems that have long plagued oversight of DOJ lawyers by simply striking the jurisdictional carve out in § 8E of the Inspector General Act. As a result, DOJ’s Inspector General would be fully empowered to investigate allegations of professional misconduct against department lawyers. In addition to enhancing oversight and public accountability at DOJ, this simple, common sense reform will bring DOJ in line with the practices in other federal agencies where allegations of attorney professional misconduct are already subject to investigation by Inspectors General.