Attorneys for Rep. Richard Kelly (R-Fla.) filed motions yesterday to quash a subpoena for office records sought by prosecutors who charge that he was videotaped taking $25,000 in cash from undercover FBI agents.
Two weeks ago, a Kelly aide said the subpoena for phone, appointment and travel records was routine and said he assumed the documents would be turned over to a federal grand jury in Washington.
Yesterday, however, lawyer Gerald M. Goldstein and R. Keith Stroup made clear they will fight the subpoena on grounds that it violates the congressman's protections under the "speech or debate"" clause of the Constitution. The clause protect's a meber of Congress from being prosecuted by the executive branch of any legislative act.
They also argued in court that papers that the subpoena abused the grand jury process because it instructed a Kelly aide to take the materials to the prosecutor's office rather than the grand jury room.
Yesterday's action apparently was the first taken publicly by any defense attorneys for the seven House members and senator implicated in the undercover Abscam operation, in which FBI agents posed as represntatives of rich Arab businessmen in trying to buy legislative favors.
In a statement issued by his office yesterday, Kelly said he couldn't turn over the records until the important constitutional issues were presented to the court.
He also said he felt the subpoena had "a chilling effect" on his constituents' right to contact him, becasue their privileged communications were being sought.
Kelly had several press conferences to say he took the money as part of his own investigation of what he termed a bunch of shady characters.
Kelly resigned from the caucus of all House Republicans last month just before its members were to vote on whether to expel him.