Sen. Mary Landrieu’s close ally Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is being accused by the Tea Party Patriots conservative group of breaking ethical guidelines by “pressuring the administration to target conservative groups engaged in political activities.”
The Senate Ethics Committee was sent a letter by the leader of the group, Jenny Beth Martin, demanding that the committee investigate Whitehouse’s activities, particularly during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in April of 2013 where Whitehouse served as chairman. According to Martin, Whitehouse said that “conservative groups had violated federal tax law by stating on tax status applications that they would not engage in political activity.”
She argues the senator’s “inflammatory attacks” against conservative groups appear to constitute “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate,” citing the Senate’s ethics manual.
She claims Whitehouse “publicly berated” the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice for not prosecuting conservative groups classified under tax law as social welfare organizations for engaging in electioneering activity.
Martin said that because of Whitehouse’s actions at the committee hearing, Justice Department officials later contacted former head of the IRS’s exempt organizations division Lois Lerner to find out if tax-exempt groups could be punished for lying about political activities.
Landrieu, who is in a vulnerable position to get re-elected in November, gave Whitehouse, among other Democrats, $15,000 for his previous re-election campaign via her JAZZPAC even though he is a strong advocate for more oil and gas taxes.
And back in February, when Whitehouse thought that Landrieu would become chairwoman of the Senate Enviorment and Public Works Committee, Whitehouse said Landrieu’s chairwomanship would put the oil and gas industry in a “very dangerous position.”
When Landrieu becomes chair of the committee, the game is up, Whitehouse said.
“That’s a game that runs out and when it runs out, if you’ve never been decent along the way, then payback is a tough thing,” he said, according to Politico.
But, Landrieu has campaigned as a champion and voice of the oil and gas industry, telling the Times Picayune/NOLA.com that she is “indispensable” because of her role as chairwoman as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.