Library of Congress Investigators Said to Get Guns Back, Restart Criminal Probes

The Library of Congress inspector general will resume investigations into old criminal cases that were put aside after the office lost its ability to buy and carry firearms, Roll Call reported Monday.

Lawmakers had inserted language into the fiscal year 2009 omnibus spending bill, which was signed into law in March, that prohibited the library's officers from using federal funds to "purchase, maintain or carry" firearms.

They cited an apparent "separation of powers" concern -- the library's investigators are deputized by the U.S. Marshals, which falls under the Executive Branch, but they investigate abuses in the Library of Congress, which falls under the legislative branch.

After strong objection from Library of Congress' inspector general, the House Appropriations Committee reversed its position in September and passed a legislative branch appropriations bill that did not include the provision.

"We're very happy to be back in business," IG Karl Schornagel said in an interview with Roll Call. "Obviously, we need this law enforcement authority to be able to conduct criminal investigations needed at the Library."

The office wrote in its semiannual report to Congress in March that the decision would "impede" investigations. It also received an opinion in April from the Government Accountability Office that there is no legitimate "separation of powers" concern.

Crimes against the Library of Congress take many forms. The IG's office investigated child pornography, embezzlement, identity theft and credit card fraud in the last fiscal year, according to its own accounting. It executed 13 search warrants and served 19 subpoenas, while winning one guilty plea and conviction.

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