Ending a feud between federal prosecutors and congressional lawyers, a former House Ethics Committee attorney is expected to testify in the prosecution of a former congressional official accused of public corruption charges.
The House Ethics Committee has agreed to a “limited authorization” for Paul Lewis, now general counsel to the House Armed Services Committee, to testify at Fraser Verrusio’s trial in Washington federal district court, according to court records. Lewis was former counsel to the chair of the House Ethics Committee.
The agreement was announced yesterday in court papers in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where Verrusio was indicted in March 2009 on charges that include false statements and bribery. Lewis was not immediately reached for comment today, and neither was Irvin Nathan, the House general counsel.
DOJ Public Integrity Section prosecutors said in court papers in July that Lewis has evidence relevant to allegations that Verrusio failed to document on his 2003 financial disclosure report the nature, value and source of gifts he received from lobbyists who had business before the transportation committee.
Lewis and Verrusio exchanged a series of e-mails in 2004 and in 2005 about information omitted from his financial disclosure statement, according to court records.
In July, Nathan told prosecutor Peter Sprung that the Ethics Committee would not allow the government to interview Lewis or permit him to testify. The government wants to authenticate the e-mail exchange.
Justice Department prosecutors also had been seeking the testimony of John Sassaman, former senior counsel to the House Ethics Committee. House lawyers moved to quash the subpoena on the ground that it sought protected congressional communication. Sassaman is now chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Ethics Committee.
Judge Richard Roberts, who is presiding over the Verrusio case, issued an order today saying the motion to quash the subpoena is now moot. Verrusio’s trial is set to begin in late November.