WASHINGTON, D.C. – A number of GOP representatives have sent a signed letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Committee on House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), demanding that they look into recent reports that say members of Congress – in addition to their staff and visitors – are being “spied” on by Capitol Police for reasons unknown.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), along with 33 other Republican lawmakers, signed the letter that insists Pelosi and Lofgren address the Capitol Police’s alleged clandestine investigations into their colleagues. The letter refers to a recent Politico report that purports that the Capitol Police are “monitoring Members of Congress, their staff, constituents, and supporters raises serious constitutional concerns.”
“Recent reports state that the Capitol Police are surveilling Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and their Capitol visitors,” Biggs said in a statement Monday. “If these reports are true, that the Capitol Police force is actively looking for and reviewing private information, then this is a gross violation of American civil liberties and an abuse of power. I’m calling on Speaker Pelosi and Chairwoman Lofgren to do what is best for the American people and look into this troubling report.”
The Politico report also notes that Capitol Police are monitoring online and social media activity and even the tax information of “congressional staff and individuals who meet with Members of Congress” and “reviewing online information to determine if any of the meeting attendees have contacts with foreign nationals.”
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The letter sent by Republicans to Pelosi and Lofgren calls out the Capitol Police’s actions as being unconstitutional, essentially accusing the force as behaving like “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
“Additionally, Capitol Police were directed to look for information on donors and staff ‘that would cast a member in a negative light,’” the letter reads. “If true, these allegations are serious violations of Americans’ civil rights and civil liberties. Our constituents have the right to petition Congress and they should be able to exercise this right without fear that Capitol Police will scrutinize their property taxes, social media, or relationships.”
The Capitol Police released a statement defending its practices, saying that “The more public information we have, the better we can understand what kind and how much security is necessary.”