In a secret vote held behind closed doors Monday night, House Republicans voted to cripple the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body created in 2008 to rein in corruption and other misconduct by members of Congress.
The move was spearheaded “by lawmakers who have come under investigation in recent years,” according to Politico. Among those speaking in favor of the changes were Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who was accused by a staffer of sexual harassment, and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who allegedly received “an impermissible gift when he and his wife traveled to Taiwan in October 2011.”
Under the new rules, the Office of Congressional Ethics would be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and, critically, lose its independence. It would be placed under the auspices of the House Ethics Committee, which famously has turned a blind eye to wrongdoing by members of Congress. It became clear that an independent body was necessary after scandals largely ignored by the the Ethics Committee sent several members of Congress, including Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Bob Ney, to jail.
Ooooh, a complaints department! We’re all so sure that will work wonderfully, right?
Many of the new restrictions on the body appear designed to make it easier to sweep misconduct under the rug.
The new Office of Congressional Complaint Review cannot make any of its findings public — or make any other public statement — without the approval of the House Ethics Committee.
Ah, how cozy. All the corrupt, unethical, immoral republicans now have a lovely shelter, and no one will ever tell them they are wrong.
Even if the Office of Congressional Complaint Review finds evidence of criminal conduct, it cannot report it to the police without prior approval.
Even better! If caught, they can’t be punished.
The rules also prohibit the new office from considering anonymous complaints or investigating any conduct that occurred before 2011.
Very convenient. That effectively prohibits any investigation via a complainant who might have every reason to be concerned about retaliation.
The House leadership will get a chance to prove their opposition Tuesday, when a public vote on a rules package that includes the changes to ethics oversight will occur on the House floor.
Yeah, I’m not gonna hold my breath. More American Greatness™ folks, Look Ma, no ethics! Via Think Progress.