With ongoing corruption in Washington and years of congressional scandals over free trips, gifts, and special dealing, many of us (here) have criticized the Senate and House Ethics rules as primarily serving to protect rather than prosecute members for wrongdoing. Yet, this week nearly half of the Congressional Black Caucus has moved to rollback on recent ethics changes after a number of its members, including high-ranking Charlie Rangel (D., NY) were investigated for violations. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and 19 fellow caucus members have submitted a resolution reducing the powers of the new independent Office of Congressional Ethics.
Members appear particularly aggrieved by the transparency rules that allow the public to see who is under investigation and why they are under investigation.
The office is a purely an advisory board to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and is run by non-members.
Fudge wants to be able to stop the committee from making information public and allow members to seal records of the office in cases found to be meritless. Critics charge that cases are routinely thrown out because of the loopholes in the ethics rules created by the members themselves and that the constituents should know about any such allegations of wrongdoing by their members. It would also make it more difficult to start investigations.
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