Emboldened by the victory of Donald Trump (who lost the popular vote by 3 million votes), and its sweeping wins in the Senate (where the GOP lost 2 seats) and the House (where the GOP lost 9 seats), House Republicans decided in a secret meeting on a national holiday to go ahead and gut that pesky Office of Congressional Ethics. Why? Because they don’t want any of those crazy ethical watchdogs looking over their shoulders while they dismantle American democracy, that’s why!
From the NYTimes:
House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail. The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday.
House Republicans held a secret vote during a secret meeting on a national holiday in order to eliminate their independent ethics watchdog— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) January 3, 2017
And now the @HouseGOP is gutting its ethics office in the middle of the night - hours before the new Congress is sworn in.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 3, 2017
Sounds like someone has been reading the North Carolina GOP handbook.
What reason could the Republicans possibly give for dismantling the organization installed after the Jack Abramoff scandal to ensure that Congressman don’t take bribes, avoid conflicts of interests, and don’t sell out their constituents for $$$$? The Office of Congressional Ethics was too overzealous, apparently. Those bastards kept ringing alarm bells when Congress people stepped out of line. The NERVE.
If it was just overzealousness, though, why would the GOP vote in a secret meeting in the middle of the night on a national holiday? It almost sounds like they are trying to hide something?
What we have in the place of the Office of Congressional Ethics is the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review,” which sounds like a fancy name for a comment box full of index cards that go immediately into the shredder. It may as well be, because the Office of Congressional Complaint Review is not allowed to accept anonymous tips, it is not allowed to make its findings public, and it answers to the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of the very people who just voted to get rid of independent oversight. In fact, the new office can’t even refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the consent of the House Ethics Committee.
In other words, it is toothless. Corruption will be ignored. And when Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20th, you think a Republican Congress that just dismantled its own Ethical oversight committee is going to care about a few (hundred) conflicts of interests? Seems doubtful.
But the good news is this: Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who sponsored the bill, said the new arrangement will improve the due process rights for the House members. Thank God someone is looking out for those poor House members.
I just hope Trump doesn’t try and distract us from the real issues with an alarming but ultimately hollow twee … oh, nevermind.
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017