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GOP to emasculate House Ethics Committee!

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posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 10:05 AM
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"The most important part of a congressional investigation is at the outset -- whether to have one -- so Republicans are trying to make sure they don't have them,"
- Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project


Today is being discussed the future of the House Ethics Committee in the 109th Congress. The majority Republican caucus plans to discuss the proposals Monday, with the full House scheduled to vote on them Tuesday, January 3rd, 2004.

I cannot stress enough how bad this could be. It would allow for the majority party to effectively own the House Ethics Committee, and prevent any complaint of misconduct from being investigated, short of breaking an actual law. This means Republicans could block complaints against Republicans (effectively gaining immunity), but allow complaints against Democrats to be fully investigated (which will ruin their career, regardless of the findings).

I will provide my source links later, but first I wish to provide you a summary of what I found. The proposals to change the Ethics Committee include the following:

  • Negation of "rules of conduct", a 30-year old rule, intended to compensate when the House's conduct code fails to anticipate poor behavior. If this rule is negated, it makes it significantly harder to discipline congressmen.
  • Relaxation of restrictions against relatives of lawmakers accepting junkets (domestic or foreign all-expense paid trips) from lobbyists.
  • Instituting a rule to stop the House Ethics Committee from investigating a complaint against a member.
  • Though the proposal is currently deadlocked on a complaint, the changes would cause future complaints to be dropped unless backed by a majority vote.
  • "Restore Presumption of Innocence" - The Ethics Committee will only act on a complaint against a member only if both the chairman and the ranking minority member (5 Dems, 5 Reps) agree that it is merited.
  • "Due process for members" would allow the accused to be heard before they are even summoned for questioning, whereas previously The Ethics committee could take action against a member without a complaint, notice, or the opportunity to be heard.

SOURCES:

Article by the Washington Post


NPR's Weekend Edition

At the time of this posting, there are only 24 hours for you to contact your local House Representative and urge them to vote against these proposals. It's time to do something more than just complaining, this is a very real, very disturbing piece of legislation right about to go through.




posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 09:32 PM
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I guess the Republican's so-called moral perspective leaves them running from any kind of ethical standards.

I don't see how anyone with moral conscious can support these criminals and their collaborators.
.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 09:49 PM
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"Due process for members" would allow the accused to be heard before they are even summoned for questioning, whereas previously The Ethics committee could take action against a member without a complaint, notice, or the opportunity to be heard.


Oh my gawd, due process - we cant have that. Much less an oppurtunity to be heard



"Restore Presumption of Innocence" - The Ethics Committee will only act on a complaint against a member only if both the chairman and the ranking minority member (5 Dems, 5 Reps) agree that it is merited.


Ah this seems quite bi-partisan to me - whats the beef here?


Basically as I'm reading this the problem is that the minority will no longer have the retaliatory ability to threaten an otherwise innocent (if such a beast exists) politician with ethics violations that are baseless as a method to influence their vote without bi-partisan agreement.

IE: A law was broken, fact was found for an ethics hearing.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 05:41 AM
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Thank God someone answered this thread. I was beginning to think that the only way I could get people to look at a post was by putting something about aliens, atlantis, or vampires in the title...


Originally posted by Phoenix


"Due process for members" would allow the accused to be heard before they are even summoned for questioning, whereas previously The Ethics committee could take action against a member without a complaint, notice, or the opportunity to be heard.


Oh my gawd, due process - we cant have that. Much less an oppurtunity to be heard

Yeah, this is the only good part I can think of in the whole bill, and it's probably the only reason it's being considered.


Originally posted by Phoenix


"Restore Presumption of Innocence" - The Ethics Committee will only act on a complaint against a member only if both the chairman and the ranking minority member (5 Dems, 5 Reps) agree that it is merited.


Ah this seems quite bi-partisan to me - whats the beef here?


The problem is, a majority vote is required a complaint to be considered, which means that either party, if they want to stop a complaint, only needs to have their entire party of 5 people vote to ignore the complaint. Democrat or Republican, this is an environment condusive to corruption. Additionally, Independant candidates are awarded no such protection. Which means another blow towards any sort of middle-party developments.


Originally posted by Phoenix
Basically as I'm reading this the problem is that the minority will no longer have the retaliatory ability to threaten an otherwise innocent (if such a beast exists) politician with ethics violations that are baseless as a method to influence their vote without bi-partisan agreement.

IE: A law was broken, fact was found for an ethics hearing.


Well, the points you outlined, sure, can be somewhat debated (though personally, I think the majority vote required for the complaint to be considered is wrong as well).

However, the points that really bother me are the negation of the Rules of Conduct (who better to find ways around the exact wording of the law, than lawmakers themselves?), and the allowance of families of lawmakers to be given junkets by lobbyists.

Regardless of your response, thank you both for being the only two people who apparently care about something that exists and is verifyable in the real world.

[edit on 1/4/2005 by thelibra]



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 08:23 AM
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Originally posted by thelibra

The problem is, a majority vote is required a complaint to be considered, which means that either party, if they want to stop a complaint, only needs to have their entire party of 5 people vote to ignore the complaint.


I believe the current system is set up so that if a deadlock exists, after 45 days an investigation is automatically set in motion. The current proposal is to remove the 45-day failsafe.

Also, the House will vote on whether to remove the "appearance of impropriety" standard, changing it to one of "it's legal, unless you get caught redhanded."

I still can't believe the GOP is going to these lengths just to save Tom DeLay's sorry self. Do they not understand that time will pass, fortunes will change, and they will not always be in total control of the gov't? These very same rules will come back to bite 'em on their collective butts.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 09:21 AM
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Originally posted by sandge
I believe the current system is set up so that if a deadlock exists, after 45 days an investigation is automatically set in motion. The current proposal is to remove the 45-day failsafe.


Correct. Which, is neccesary, IMHO, as Congress is notoriously slow to act, even in the best of times, unless an agenda that benefits the majority party is on the table.


Originally posted by sandge
I still can't believe the GOP is going to these lengths just to save Tom DeLay's sorry self. Do they not understand that time will pass, fortunes will change, and they will not always be in total control of the gov't? These very same rules will come back to bite 'em on their collective butts.


Ditto. I'm also astounded how few people appear to care...
The world is a depressingly amazing place sometimes.



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