The House Ethics Committee is officially known as the Committee On Standards Of Official Conduct. I wonder how many people actually know this, and really understand what that title is supposed to mean. While it is quite obvious that our government’s legislative bodies need rules and regulations under which to operate, the House Ethics Committee of today seems to be lacking … ethics.
That is not a statement I make lightly, or without some serious research to back it up.
Here we have a governing body put in charge of what I view as being similar to our military’s Code of Conduct in our House of Representatives. This committee investigates House officials, members, or employees when allegations or evidence of criminal or unethical actions surfaces. What I do find unethical here, is the fact that career politicians are serving on this powerful committee that is put in charge of deciding which career politicians to investigate, just how that investigation is carried out, and what “punishment” they recommend. This breeds partisanship right from the start, not to mention the fact that they have given themselves the power to squash any calls for investigations of corrupt politicians they so choose. How many times have we heard the chairmen of this committee announce that they have “reviewed” the allegations of misconduct, and find no wrongdoing ? Somehow I get the strong feeling that if it was the taxpayer doing the investigating instead of political cronies, the outcomes of these investigations would be quite different. For people who want us to believe that our elected officials are held to a higher standard of ethics when conducting the people’s business, these same people sure are quick in setting those standards lower when investigating their party pals or political cronies.
The list of examples that show a lack of true ethical behavior within the House Ethics Committee is longer than I could ever hope to include in this article. The Charlie Rangel debacle is the most recent one. Found guilty of 11 ethic violations, Charlie was “sentenced” to Censure by the House. This elected official, this trusted guardian of the taxpayer’s dollars, neglected to pay income taxes for several years, along with several other episodes of malfeasance and misconduct. Mr Rangel was also the Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Was he expelled from Congress? No. Did he do any jail time? No. Did he pay any fines? Not proven to us, but they did decide to actually make him pay the back taxes at some point. When we talk about ethics, we must ask ourselves why is he still a member of the people’s trusted Congress? Do not lecture we the people, on ethics and standards of conduct while Charlie Rangel is still a member of Congress, thank you.
Fast forward to this week, and my inspiration for writing this article. At TheHill.com, I ran into an article, “Ethics Committee debates hiring outside counsel for Waters investigation.”, written by Susan Crabtree that provides some good insight into this situation.
Chairman Jo Bonner- (R- Ala) apparently wants to have the ethics committee continue with the Waters investigation, (which is the Committee’s supposed main reason for existence) while Ex-Chairman Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif) wants an outside Legal firm to handle it. First of all, since we the people demand cutting spending in Congress, I say no to the added expense of hiring someone else to do their job here. This always seems to be the solution in Congress these days, throw more tax dollars at the problem while shirking your own responsibilities and duties. No excuses please.
Secondly, if Lofgren feels there is too much partisanship and bickering within this committee for them to do their job, maybe it’s high time we replace any members who are obstructing this investigation, or do away with the committee completely? It isn’t difficult to see what is happening here. Last November, Lofgren wanted to fire the lead lawyer on the case, and he is now on administrative leave indefinitely, which also conveniently gives Lofgren an excuse for hiring an outside law firm. Bonner accused Lofgren of playing politics with the ethics process, as to her many apparent decisions to delay the trial. On and on with the childish infighting and partisanship, to the point that this investigation has ground to a halt once again.
If this was in the real world, instead of Congress, the whole committee would be fired for this type of nonsense. Millions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent on this debacle and what have we got to show for it? Nothing! No progress, no trial, no justice, nothing. This committee appears to be at a stalemate, the cause of which lies solely within the committee itself. We had the GOP take the majority in the house in 2010. Changes were supposedly coming. So what do the geniuses in our House of Representatives do to start the 112th Congress as far as the Ethics committee goes? They install the same incompetent, childish, partisan members responsible for this Waters debacle, right back onto the Ethics Committee! (Lofgren and Bonner ) Once again, the people who have proven to be the most incompetent, ineffective elected officials to serve on this committee, are put right back into a position to continue this malfeasance masquerading as an Ethics Committee !
When discussing Ethics within our Congress, Maxine Waters’ hiring practices come into also question. Meet her Chief of Staff, Mikael Moore – who also happens to be Maxine Waters Grandson. Is nepotism allowed when it comes to hiring people to work in Congress on the taxpayers dime ? Well it is supposedly against the rules when it comes to hiring spouses and siblings, yet hiring grandchildren isn’t defined under nepotism rules? Maybe Lofgren and Waters could get together and explain that one to the people? Which brings us to one last observation about our House Ethics Committee.
When reading the Rules of The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at ethics.house.gov, we see that they have posted the rules and amendments for the 111th Congress.***
Take note that these rules were adopted on February 10th 2009, and then Amended on June 9th of 2009. They created a new set of rules, then had to change them again 4 months later. Who oversees these rule changes? Surely, it couldn’t be the very same people on this committee that have delayed and bungled the Waters investigation, possibly beyond repair? Zoe Lofgren, the Chair of this circus has now been reported to tell Minority leader Nancy Pelosi that she is too “burned out” to continue in her position as Vice-Chair of the Ethics Committee due to partisan bickering. That equates to the Ringleader of the Circus, blaming the Elephants for the closing of the show after she has almost single- handedly burned down the entire tent. Ethics? What Ethics?