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Tipsheet

The Alleged Funny Business Between the Capitol Police and One GOP Congressman Is Far from Over

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) allegation of illegal spying by the Capitol Police is heading to the department’s inspector general. The Texas Republican alleges that his office was subjected to an illegal investigation which includes police entering his office and taking photographs of legislative materials. This occurred when Congress was in recess last November. Nehls said Capitol Police’s entry was unlawful. On November 22, 2021, he alleges that three officers dressed as construction workers tried to enter the office again and discovered a staffer, pressing him on the photographs they allegedly obtained illegally. Capitol Police has denied any wrongdoing, adding that anytime they see a congressional office vacant and open—they document it and secure the area. Nehls didn’t buy that, adding that the police had no authority to take photographs (via The Hill):

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The inspector general for the U.S. Capitol Police has agreed to investigate the force’s practices following accusations from Republican lawmakers that USCP is spying on them and their visitors. 

In a detailed letter obtained by The Hill, Capitol Police forcefully denied any wrongdoing, laying out a system for reviewing people who attend events with elected officials largely at lawmaker request. 

The investigation comes at the request of Chief Thomas Manger, who said he sees it as a way to “assure both this Committee, the Congress as a whole, and the public that these processes are legal, necessary, and appropriate.”

“The USCP does not conduct any ‘insider threats’-related surveillance or intelligence gathering on Members, staff, or visitors to the Capitol Complex,” he said. 

But the effort reflects the deep mistrust of USCP leadership held by some GOP members who say that agency has encroached on privacy in attempts to bolster security after Jan. 6.

The congressman also said that neither he nor his top staffers were informed that they were part of an investigation. If they had, they would have let them know they have no authority to conduct such a probe. Nehls says that his sharp criticism of Nancy Pelosi is what set off this circus.

This incident comes after the Capitol Police have established a new regime post-January 6 that has raised the eyebrows of some regarding possible invasions of privacy. Visitors to Capitol Hill should expect police to peruse their social media activity, among other searches. These actions will certainly chill those wanting to meet with their representatives in Congress. Capitol Police has insisted that the information they review is public and no different than what journalists do for research. 

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