...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
      ( 1:17 PM )
Den of Iniquity

...that would be the House of Representatives I'm referring to. Yesterday, a conglomeration of groups including Common Cause and Judicial Watch issued a study which concluded that there are literally no ethics in the House of Representatives.

The House ethics system is virtually shut down
because public interest groups are barred from
filing complaints and leaders of both parties
have a pact to avoid seeking investigations,
liberal and conservative groups charged Tuesday.

Eight organizations -- from liberal Common
Cause to conservative Judicial Watch -- said
the ethics committee has taken action on only
five cases since 1997, when the panel ended
an investigation of former Speaker Newt
Gingrich. Gingrich was forced to pay a $300,000
fine after the probe on charges he used
charitable funds for political purposes.

There used to be a committee that oversaw investigations into breaches of ethical conduct by Congressional members. That is no more. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame - they made a deal with each other not to bring up charges against each other or even deal with ethics issues.

At a news conference, the organizations demanded
that the committee -- formally the Committee on
Standards of Official Conduct -- investigate a
reported attempt by Republican leaders to offer
Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich., $100,000 for his son's
congressional campaign if he voted for the
Medicare overhaul legislation last year; and
Majority Leader Tom DeLay's purported offer of
attendance at gala events at the Republican
National Convention this summer for donors to
his childrens' charity.

The groups recommended that the House end
a rule, established after the Gingrich case, that
barred non-governmental organizations from
filing complaints and that the leadership end
its agreement, which several organizations
called a "sweetheart" arrangement, to avoid
filing complaints.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a
conservative legal organization, said of the
committee, "It's essentially a black hole."

If the House actually investigated every questionable ethical behavior then the American public might actually KNOW what kinds of scandalous behavior goes on in the federal government. And we can't have that. It's just ludicrous the things these guys get away with. The legal stuff is bad enough (like the kickbacks from lobbyists, etc). Why are our elected officials not accountable ethically? That's like asking why do our elected officials get to raise their own salaries? Being a Congressperson seems like a good gig if you can get it. Unfortunately, like the ethics question, the Dems and Repubs have made a deal to keep their incumbent seats virtually uncontested. What a country.

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