Letter: Congressional Oversight, Not a Fishing Expedition

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In your “Gone Fishing” editorial published Oct. 17 [page 18], I was surprised to read some of the assertions you made in regards to the letter from Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and vice chairman of the Science, Space and Technology space and aeronautics subcommittee, to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin. In Chairman Smith’s letter, he called for a nonpartisan investigation surrounding concerns that were reported by the most senior career civil servants within the agency, who stated that political appointees of President Barack Obama’s administration were pursuing “Democratic political goals, not national goals.”

My concern is that you missed the point of Chairman Smith’s letter. In it, he specifically states that the investigation should focus on the concerns raised by those senior career managers, not a fishing expedition, as your editorial asserts. The issues that Chairman Smith raises are part of a broader concern and not specific to an isolated event.

Please note that it took over two months for a political appointee at NASA to respond to Chairman Smith’s request for what should be readily available taxpayer-funded reports. The NASA political appointee then chose not to provide the whole report to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, only an executive summary.

The point Chairman Smith’s letter asserts is that it is the constitutional right and duty of the legislative branch to investigate, to exercise oversight and to demand accountability from the executive branch. Every administration will put its own political appointees in office to ensure the president’s policy prerogatives are being exercised, but this does not mean they can ignore federal law, ignore Congress or ignore the American people.

In the age of Solyndra, LightSquared and “Fast and Furious,” it is Congress’ duty to demand transparency and accountability from the Obama administration. I applaud Chairman Smith’s efforts to do just that.

 

Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.)

Washington

 

The writer is vice chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology investigations and oversight subcommittee.