Well, they have found that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and they quietly slipped through a rule change.
That sentence enables individual members to hide official documents that could prove embarrassing or even incriminating if they were suddenly investigated by the ethics office or the Justice Department for criminal activity.
The new rule states that records created, generated or received by the congressional office of a House member “are exclusively the personal property of the individual member” and that the member “has control over such records,” according to a report by OpenSecrets.org.
What the change from public to personal records means is that if the ethics committee, or even criminal investigators, wanted records of a congressional office they can't just tell the congressperson or their staff to hand it over or risk certain consequences. They would need a warrant or subpoena to make a congressperson feel legal pressure/risk to release documents. Before thinking that is fair protections, remember these are employment/work documents, and the employer is the government/the people. You can't withhold some of the records you have created, generated, or received, in the course of your work from your employer if they ask for it, as they are not your personal records, but your employer's records.
Edited by sierraleone, 10 January 2017 - 05:46 PM.