Left-Right Alliance Fights Subpoenas
Archibald, George, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian Coalition, normally enemies, put aside their differences yesterday to announce plans to fight Senate subpoenas for documents about their political and legislative activities.
A left-right coalition of seven public-interest groups said it is ready to wage a court battle that could doom the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's political fund-raising investigation unless the subpoenas are dropped.
At a Capitol Hill news conference, James Bopp Jr., general counsel to the National Right to Life Committee, lambasted the subpoenas as "a partisan fishing expedition that seriously undermines the First Amendment rights" of nonprofit political-action and lobbying groups.
The subpoena issued to the pro-life committee July 30 asked for records of the activities of its president, Wanda Franz, and chief lobbyist, Douglas Johnson, "related to any federal candidate, campaign, election, or publicly debated issue, including, without limitation, scheduling books, calendars, itineraries, travel records, reimbursement requests, expense records or electronic mail."
Similar subpoenas were served on 26 other groups, including the Teamsters union, National Council of Senior Citizens and Citizens Against Government Waste. The groups told Republican and Democratic counsel to the Senate panel in a letter that the subpoenas requesting millions of documents exceed the committee's authority and "constitute harassment and interference of a particularly invidious kind."
"We are determined to see that our rights to assemble in groups, to speak freely, and to petition the government are not trampled by a handful of congressional staffers blinded by subpoena power," said columnist Jack Anderson, chairman of Citizens Against Government Waste, who accused the panel of "another witch hunt" similar to the anti-Communist crusade of former Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Wisconsin Republican.
"Don't get me wrong . . . …