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Press Release Published: Sep 28, 2021

Oversight Republicans: We Urge Committee Democrats Not to Pursue Communications That Are Clearly Protected by the First Amendment

Oversight experts have cautioned Congress against the types of inquiries Democrats are currently engaged in

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter to Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) expressing concerns over the Democrat’s push to acquire a litany of information and communications from private entities that are clearly protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to petition the federal government and many congressional oversight experts have cautioned Congress against the types of inquiries that the Majority is currently engaged in.  

“Since Democrats assumed control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019, you have requested a litany of information from private entities that is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Most recently, on September 16, 2021, you sent letters to Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute requesting a broad range of information including communications protected by the First Amendment.   Due to the protected nature of these communications, Republicans respectfully object to your requests,” wrote Ranking Member Comer.

“Republican Members of this Committee are concerned about the chilling effect such a precedent would have on the ability of entities to petition the U.S government.  Democrats repeated attempts to obtain protected communications ignores well-established constitutional prerogatives and has a chilling effect on citizens who wish to exercise their right to petition the government and freely associate… The objective of the Democrats’ investigation appears to be preventing certain entities from petitioning Congress, and freely associating with like-minded individuals. The Democrat’s willingness to infringe on the most basic rights protected by the First Amendment is an affront to the Constitution,” concluded Ranking Member Comer.

Recent investigations initiated by the Majority are targeting certain industries that Democrats dislike and contravene the long-established principals of Congressional oversight. To protect the most basic rights granted under the First Amendment, the lawmakers are urging Committee Democrats to not pursue records that are protected under the First Amendment.  

Read the full letter to Chairwoman Maloney here