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DOJ warns prosecutors against press leaks in election run-up

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has warned federal prosecutors about leaking information on ongoing investigations of legislators to the media in advance of the upcoming mid-term elections. In recent months, several news outlets have identified federal officials as sources for reports about probes into allegedly improper actions by prominent lawmakers, including former Florida representative Mark Foley [JURIST news archive] and Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) [official website]. FBI [official website] Director Robert S. Mueller III [official profile] warned employees against sharing information about current investigations via e-mail last week, although the FBI has not confirmed whether any leaked information came from the bureau.

DOJ officials contend that the leaks may affect upcoming polls, especially those in battleground areas, even when they report inactive investigations, such as the inquiry into Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) [official website]. Officials also fear that recent leaks could compromise ongoing investigations, for example forcing federal officials to conduct raids related to the Weldon probe earlier in order to prevent destruction of evidence in light of news reports. The New York Times has more.

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