“Members of Congress are not above the law, but the House’s aggressive use of the Speech or Debate Clause to impede law enforcement authorities from investigating members’ potentially illegal activities is unseemly,” she said.
Mr. Boehner’s office declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Hastert said he was not available for comment.
In a 2008 letter to Ms. Sloan, Mr. Nathan, the House general counsel, said his office’s efforts have been to uphold the clause, which he called “a vital pillar of Congress’ independence.” He said his office does not represent members or staffers who are investigative targets but rather the House as an institution.
But Ms. Sloan told Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner in her letter that members of Congress, “like all other citizens, can hire attorneys to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected; this is not, however, the job of the House general counsel, hired at taxpayer expense.”
The Senate has not been as aggressive in intervening in corruption cases of its members. Unlike the House, where the leaders decide, the Senate has to vote on authorizing its attorneys to file a friend-of-the-court brief.
In the House, four Democrats and four Republicans are or have recently been under federal investigation, according to CREW. They are Democrats John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana, Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois and Allan B. Mollohan of West Virginia, and Republicans Jerry Lewis and Gary G. Miller, both of California, Don Young of Alaska, and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania.
Three former Republican House members - John Doolittle of California, Tom Feeney of Florida and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania - also are under federal investigation.
The House is thought to have intervened in some of the pending investigations, but those activities are currently not public, shielded by grand jury secrecy.
In a statement late last month, Ms. Sloan said Republicans and Democrats “may not see eye to eye on much, but both parties agree members of Congress should be above the criminal laws that apply to the rest of us.”
Kristi Jourdan contributed to this report.