A watchdog group filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee on Tuesday against Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) over allegations that he attempted to “bribe” the Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar.
The complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), cites a letter that Vitter wrote to Salazar last month. In the letter Vitter said he would continue to oppose increasing Salazar’s paycheck by $19,600 until the secretary issued permits for new exploratory deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a five-page letter to committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan detailed the allegation of Vitter’s “quid pro quo” and recommended that the committee refer matters to the Justice Department if they found the senator guilty of wrongdoing.
“Our country’s criminal laws apply to everyone, including senators,” said Sloan in the letter. “There is no exception to the bribery law allowing a senator to influence a department secretary’s official acts by withholding compensation.”