House Republicans Gut Congress’ Ethics Oversight Panel

The House Republicans just gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics.


Monday night the House Republicans voted 119-74 to gut Congress’ independent ethics oversight watchdog panel. They also voted to take away the panel’s independence.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was created by the Dems in March of 2008 following the Abramoff scandal. Abramoff was a popular GOP lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribery charges. He and his clients used campaign money and favors to influence members of the House.

So the Dems created the OCE in order to have an independent agency with better oversight capabilities.

The OCE currently has the freedom to pursue and investigate allegations and then report their recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. But Monday night the Republicans changed that.

Politico reports,

“Now, the office would be under the thumb of lawmakers themselves. The proposal also appears to limit the scope of the office’s work by barring them from [considering] anonymous tips against lawmakers. And it would stop the office from disclosing the findings of some of their investigations, as they currently do after the recommendations go to House Ethics.”

Under this new proposal by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the OCE would be renamed the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review.” And the new agency would actually fall under the oversight of the Committee on Ethics.

In addition,

“The provision would “provide protection against disclosures to the public or other government entities,” essentially sealing accusations against lawmakers. Currently those investigations are made public several months after the OCE refers the matter to the Ethics panel.”

So the House GOP watchdog will now have no transparency, no freedom, no oversight, and no independence. What could possibly go wrong?

UPDATE

On Tuesday after public outrage the Republicans reversed this decision. And they voted unanimously to restore the original rules of the OCE.

Politico reports,

“House Republicans reversed course Tuesday on drastic changes to the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

After a hastily convened conference call, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a motion to restore the current OCE rules that was accepted by the GOP conference via unanimous consent.”

Mindy Fischer

Mindy Fischer

Mindy Fischer is a lefty-liberal, freelance political writer. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Mindy Fischer