A frustrated Republican congressman says that the U.S. Capitol Police have been spying on him, even to the point of entering his office without authorization.
According to The Federalist, the incident has led to an investigation by the Inspector General for the department, which is reportedly looking into surveillance of several Republican lawmakers by USCP.
“The opening of the investigation follows news reports and accusations from lawmakers that USCP has overstepped its bounds as it tries to recover from the January 6 riots that tarnished both the Capitol and the reputation of the law enforcement agency that was supposed to keep it safe,” the outlet reported.
The outlet adds:
USCP Chief J. Thomas Manger confirmed the opening of the inspector general investigation in his response to congressional inquiries about USCP police tactics, reported in a January 24 article published by Politico, including surveilling and compiling intelligence dossiers on members of Congress, their staff, and visitors.
“While I am confident in our methods, I am asking the USCP Office of the Inspector General to review the USCP’s programs related to these security assessments to assure both this Committee, the Congress as a whole, and the public that these processes are legal, necessary, and appropriate,” Manger wrote to seven Republican lawmakers.
Politico noted that USCP analysts had been directed by Julie Farnam, the acting director of USCP’s Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division, to “run ‘background checks on people whom lawmakers planned to meet, including donors and associates.”
“When staff were listed as attending these meetings, Capitol Police intelligence analysts also got asked to check the social media accounts of the staffers,” the Politico article alleged.
The Federalist adds: “In his letter to lawmakers, Manger denied the allegations detailed in the Politico article and claimed USCP’s activities were both appropriate and legal.”
The outlet noted in particular:
In November 2021, a USCP officer entered the congressional office of Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Tex., and took a photo of a whiteboard in Nehls’ legislative office detailing various legislative plans being considered by Nehls and his staff. In a formal police report filed several days after the incident, the officer wrote that he had been conducting a routine security patrol on Saturday, November 21, and discovered that one of the doors to Nehls’ office was open.
The report claimed that the officer entered Nehls’ office and found a whiteboard that contained “suspicious writings mentioning body armor[.]” The officer reportedly took a photo of the whiteboard, which was then passed around to analysts within USCP. The following Monday, USCP dispatched three plain-clothed intelligence officers to Nehls’ office and questioned a staffer who was there about the whiteboard and the legislative proposals it contained.
Just days before the USCP officer entered Nehls’ office and took a picture of the whiteboard Nehls and his staff used to brainstorm and catalog legislative ideas, the Washington Post ran a story about a federal government contractor in rural Texas who defrauded the United States by supplying Chinese-made body armor instead of body armor manufactured in the United States.
“From his home in rural Texas, a would-be defense contractor spun a web of fake companies and testing reports to pass off Chinese-made body armor as American equipment that met rigorous standards for use by the State Department and U.S. law enforcement partners in Latin America,” the Washington Post wrote on November 16, 2021. “Tanner Jackson, 32, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Alexandria federal court to one count of wire fraud, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.”
Nehls, who previously served as the sheriff of Fort Bend County, Texas, said that the whiteboard specifically cited the faulty Chinese body armor.
“What the police report did not include was any reference to multiple items on Nehls’ whiteboard immediately following the words ‘body armor’ referencing Export Administration Regulations dealing specifically with Chinese imports or U.S. Department of Justice standards for certifying body armor,” The Federalist added.
Later correspondence regarding the matter also noted that the officer investigating in Nehl’s office found “an outline of the Rayburn Building with an X marked at the C Street entrance” drawn on the whiteboard to be suspicious, too. But a Nehls spokesman told The Federalist it was little more than a crude map to help an intern find an ice machine in the Rayburn House Office Building.
“If Capitol Police leadership had spent as much time preparing for January 6 as they spent investigating my white board, the January 6 riot never would have happened,” Nehls, a former law enforcement officer, told The Federalist.
“When I was a patrol officer responding to a call, I didn’t have the time or authority to go rifling through someone’s personal papers. There are serious 4th Amendment, constitutional issues at play here,” he added.r