March 23, 2017
Chairman Burr, Vice Chairman Warner, Rep. Conaway and Ranking Member Schiff:
I write as president of an organization with over 2 million supporters nationwide, an organization that has directly felt the heavy hand of persecution by the very government we support with our taxes. With respect, our question to you with regard to the investigation into alleged Russian interference and meddling in the last presidential election – on behalf of all law-abiding Americans – is what happened to the emphasis and focus on a) the illegal release of classified information to the news media, and b) the unmasking of law-abiding American citizens in the collection of intelligence during the campaign and the transition?
Over two weeks ago, Senator Lindsey Graham chaired a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, at which former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified. Chairman Graham asked both individuals this direct question: “How did the conversation between the Russian ambassador and Mr. Flynn make it to the Washington Post? Clapper answered: “I don’t know the answer to that,” and Yates followed, “Nor do I know the answer to that.”
Senator Graham stated during the hearing: “It seems pretty obvious to me that political people could, in the right position, unmask people who have political differences, who end up talking to foreign agents and use it for political purposes. That, to me is very serious.” Again, this was in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, not a full committee hearing where it would get more attention.
Well gentlemen, again with respect, someone does know the answer to that. But the American people have heard nothing about finding out how this happened since Senator Graham’s hearing several weeks ago.
Our concern is that your investigation’s emphasis and focus on our government, again, illegally interfering in the lives of law-abiding American citizens, will go unaddressed with no accountability. Such would be absolutely unacceptable in the world’s leading democracy, to which people around the globe look hopefully for examples of leadership on issues of government accountability.
Further, this is a serious matter of breaching national security. There are clearly rogue government officials, with high level clearances, engaging in criminal activity involving classified information. Where are the voices and concerns about this from you and your colleagues? The silence is deafening and eerily reminiscent to us.
Our organization, along with hundreds of other citizens and citizen-organizations, was illegally persecuted by the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes during the Obama administration. Our organization had to wait for three years, two months and ten days to receive its tax status, thus hindering citizen participation in education about the political process and therefore accomplishing the politically charged purpose of these heavy-handed government actions.
To date, no one has been held accountable for these egregiously illegal practices – including the central figure of the scandal, Lois Lerner. She pled the Fifth Amendment over three years ago before a congressional committee and literally nothing has happened since.
An engaged, mobilized and critical nation is watching your investigation. Will there be accountability and justice, or another whitewash?
It is clear that personnel at high levels of our intelligence agencies have been leaking classified information to the media; that is a crime. It is also clear that someone – or several someones – with authority in the Obama administration gave the go-ahead for unmasking private, law-abiding American citizens whose identities, and other personal information, had been gathered incidentally through the collection of intelligence on otherwise proper targets. This may also be a crime.
There were only a few high-level officials in the Obama administration who had the authority to unmask these private citizens. You have an obligation to expose who did this and hold them publicly accountable so they can be brought to justice if crimes were committed. You have an obligation to expose who is leaking classified information to the media so they can be brought to justice.
Every day that passes without public, government accountability for these actions only further darkens the lens of cynicism and contempt through which the American people view Washington. We implore you to immediately bring back the emphasis and focus on these heavy-handed, illegal government actions against innocent Americans; put it front and center for all to see. It’s time to restore confidence among the people that their government is actually working for them, and not against them.
We strongly urge you to set full committee hearing dates in both the House and Senate. We strongly urge you to immediately and vigorously proceed with the needed investigations into these national security breaches and crimes against innocent Americans that have already been committed and even continue to this day.
Jenny Beth Martin
President and Co-Founder, Tea Party Patriots
cc: Hon. Lindsey Graham, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence