Washington Post has an interesting article today about the House ethics
committee and its state of hibernation during what should be a very busy time.
The House ethics committee, the panel responsible for upholding the
chamber’s ethics code, has been virtually moribund for the past year,
handling only routine business despite a wave of federal investigations into
close and potentially illegal relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists.
With a California congressman headed to prison for accepting bribes and
several others under investigation for accepting lavish gifts and money from
former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, one might expect the House committee to have
a lot of work to do.
But the committee’s five Republican and five Democratic members have not
opened a new case or launched an investigation in the past 12 months. It
took months to hire a new chief of staff, and he still is not in place. Nor
has the panel hired a full complement of investigators.
“I would say by the early part of January, we will be fully organized —
or should be really close to that,” said Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), the
committee’s ranking Democrat. By then, he added, the panel “will be in a
position to fulfill all of our responsibilities.”
No wonder why there are so many scandals occurring inside the beltway now.
Its a form of congressional anarchy. It is almost like a city with no police
department – people will do what they want because they think they can get away
with it. Even worse the lack of oversight is bogging down our justice
“There is no ethics enforcement in Congress today, and it’s inexcusable,”
sad Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative monitor of
“No matter what level of corruption the members of Congress engage in,
the ethics committees do nothing,” agreed Melanie Sloan, executive director
of the liberal-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“It’s a national embarrassment.”
Mr. Fitton speaks the truth there. This can not be pinned on being Democrat
or Republican. Scandals are plaguing both sides of the aisle. The Republicans
are involved in more scandals but even something as big as the Abramoff scandal
is reaching to both sides. Every single person who leads this nation should hold
ethics to its highest level but they have no reason to because the enforcers are
asleep at the wheel. They are letting the children run amuck and further destroy
a once great nation.
So far this year, at least seven lawmakers have been indicted, have
pleaded guilty or are under investigation for improper conduct such as
conspiracy, securities fraud and improper campaign donations. In the past
two weeks alone, Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) resigned from
Congress and pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy, and public
relations executive Michael Scanlon admitted his role in a conspiracy to try
to bribe a congressman.
In addition, The Washington Post and other publications have reported
that a host of lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats, senators and members
of the House — are being examined by the Justice Department for their
connections to Abramoff, a lobbyist who, with his former partner Scanlon,
billed Indian tribes $82 million in fees that may have been put to improper
And that’s not all. The spouses of lawmakers and their
aides-turned-lobbyists — including those of DeLay — are also under
scrutiny as part of the Abramoff scandal.
In inquiries unrelated to Abramoff, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
has been subpoenaed in connection with probes by the Securities and Exchange
Commission and the Justice Department into his sale of stock in HCA Inc.,
the chain founded by his father and brother. In another case, Rep. William
J. Jefferson (D-La.) is under investigation by the Justice Department for
possible violations connected with a telecommunications deal he was trying
to arrange in Nigeria. Both lawmakers have denied wrongdoing.
Despite all this activity, the ethics committees in Congress, which are
charged with self-regulation in the House and Senate, have been mum all
“I don’t think the ethics committees are working very well,” Sen. John
McCain (R-Ariz.) said yesterday on “Meet the Press.” “The latest Cunningham
scandal was uncovered by the San Diego newspaper, not by” the ethics
With no oversight by the ethics committee they have in fact endorsed this
type of behavior. While the Republicans are suffering the larger ethics
problems, this hurts every person in Congress. The average citizen does not keep
score cards of who is crooked or who is not. All they hear is constant reports
of corruption in Congress and that places a bad image on every single person on
The longer the ethics committee ignores these problems the worse they will
get. To lead this nation, you should be vigilant in your conduct. You can not
turn a blind eye to justice in order for personal gain. These scandal plagued
Congressman do not feel the same. Instead they are ignoring the law in exchange
for personal gains.
John McCain was advocating a change in regards to lobbying yesterday. I could
not agree more. It seems that most scandals start in the form of bad lobbying
influences. The K Street gang is running this country and they are doing so with
only the interests of their corporate bosses in mind.
Unfortunately that won’t be enough to clean up the corruption. We need more
campaign finance reforms. Last year over $4 billion was spent on campaigning for
President and Congressional seats. Just to run for Congress can cost upwards of
$30 million. These congressmen start feeling the only way they can keep their
jobs is to break the law.
We need a better system for campaign financing. If that does not change then
the problems will only get worse and we will see a nation where only the rich
can run it. Those rich people will come from corporate America who will make
sure the money goes back to their interests and then we have a perpetual cycle
that will never end. That cycle must be broken now in order to save America.