UPDATES 8th graf with amendment effect on lawsuit; PICKUP 9th graf pvs "A Transportation..."
By SUZANNE GAMBOA
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal agencies would be prohibited from destroying any records related to
their involvement in the search for Texas Democratic lawmakers in May under an amendment approved
by the U.S. House.
The amendment sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, was included in the $37.9 billion
bill providing money for the Commerce, Justice and State departments. The spending bill passed
400-21 Wednesday night.
The measure, agreed to on a voice vote, prohibits agencies from using any government money to
"destroy or conceal physical or electronic records and documents related to any use of federal agency
resources in any task or action involving or related to members of the Texas Legislature" between May
11 and May 16.
Democratic members of the Texas House fled during that period to Oklahoma and Mexico to kill a
redistricting bill by breaking a quorum.
Jackson Lee called the amendment a victory because other legislative attempts to get documents and
other materials from federal agencies about the search have failed. "At least we now know these
documents will have to be on file in September, October, December," Jackson Lee said.
The Senate has not yet passed its version of the spending bill. Jackson said she would "bird dog" the
amendment to ensure it makes it into law.
The amendment was largely aimed at the Justice Department, which has an ongoing inquiry into any
involvement by FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, the U.S. Attorney's office and other Justice employees.
The FBI has said a Corpus Christi-based agent called a lawmaker to help Texas law officers and the
Ardmore FBI office also said it was contacted during the search.
Democrats in Ardmore, Okla., said they encountered a man and woman in dark suits who appeared to
be doing surveillance at the hotel where they stayed four days. Democrats want to know whether they
were FBI agents.
The Justice Department has been reluctant to turn over documents and other materials to members of
Congress, including Texas congressional Democrats. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, has
sued the agency under federal open government laws to force release of the information. Jackson Lee
said the amendment, if finally approved, would strengthen his lawsuit.
A Transportation Department investigation found that the Federal Aviation Administration helped locate
the plane belonging to one of the lawmakers at the request the office of House Majority Leader Tom
DeLay, R-Sugar Land.
A division of the Department of Homeland Security also helped track the plane, but that agency
determined the work took only 40 minutes and did not affect the anti-terrorism agency's mission. The
department has refused to release recordings and other documents related to the search.
On the Net: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: http://www.jacksonlee.house.gov/