The inspector general for the U.S. Capitol Police has opened an investigation into allegations that one of its officers surreptitiously entered Rep. Troy Nehls’ office and took photographs.
The Texas Republican requested the investigation and announced Tuesday that the IG agreed to launch a probe.
“This goes much deeper than an unethical entry into my office by Capitol police,” Mr. Nehls said in a statement. “This is a violation of Members’ right to speech and debate, as well as a 4th amendment violation. Could you imagine leaving your front door open and police officers enter your private home, take pictures of the inside, and then open an investigation based on those pictures?”
He also said the Capitol Police came after him to settle a score about his criticism of the agency, including for the killing of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by a USCP officer when joined a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Capitol Police leadership have put a target on my back, but my work in exposing the security failures on January 6th, the death of Ms. Babbitt, and the sham investigation into the events of January 6th will not be deterred,” said Mr. Nehls.
Capitol Police released a statement from USCP Chief Tom Manger:
“The United States Capitol Police is sworn to protect Members of Congress. If a Member’s office is left open and unsecured, without anyone inside the office, USCP officers are directed to document that and secure the office to ensure nobody can wander in and steal or do anything else nefarious. The weekend before Thanksgiving, one of our vigilant officers spotted the Congressman’s door was wide open. That Monday, USCP personnel personally followed up with the Congressman’s staff and determined no investigation or further action of any kind was needed. No case investigation was ever initiated or conducted into the Representative or his staff.”
The USCP officer entered the office on Nov. 20 through an open door and took a photograph of writings and drawings on a whiteboard, apparently as part of an investigation targeting Mr. Nehls or his staff, according to the congressman.
The Texas Republican said the USCP officer photographed “confidential” material about legislation that would have ensured body armor quality for law enforcement officers.
The whiteboard also included a map of the Rayburn House Office Building that was drawn by a staffer to direct an intern to an ice machine within the complex.
Mr. Nehls said the photo that included the words “body armor” and the map was of the Rayburn building passed up to USCP intelligence analysts, resulting in a report citing “suspicious writings.”
The congressman learned of the incident the following Monday when three plain-clothed USCP agents returned to his office and questioned a staff member.
Mr. Nehls told The Washington Times that he spoke with Chief Manger for at least 17 minutes after the incident but was not satisfied with the chief’s explanations.
“I think it’s shameful that I can’t get answers to basic questions as to who took the picture. Where was the picture sent, who authorized the criminal investigation into my office,” Mr. Nehls said. “Did this go to the high levels in the intelligence division of the Capitol Police, which, you know, … I’ve been a very vocal critic on January 6th.”
Mr. Nehls, who previously served 30 years in law enforcement as a sheriff in Texas, took a prominent role in criticizing Capitol Police leadership’s intelligence failures in advance of the Capitol riot. He was chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, to be a member of the select committee investigating the riot. Mr. Nehls and others named to the committee by Mr. McCarthy were rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.