Yesterday, the Republican House Caucus voted to eliminate the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (‘OCE’) and replace it with an “Office of Congressional Complaint Review” under the control of the House Ethics committee. This is really bad as it essentially legalizes bribery. How?
Suppose someone, let’s say a congressional aide or staffer or a lobbyist’s aide, has evidence of flat-out bribery. Currently, the law-abiding citizen can report this anonymously to the OGE, which as an independent body, can decide to investigate this, and, if deemed necessary, report it to law enforcement authorities. The OCE can also decide to release information without Congressional approval.
Under the Republican proposal, the new rules do not allow anonymous tips to the OCCR. Even if someone, under these conditions allowing for reprisal, does file a complaint, the OCCR is not allowed to announce the complaint or describe it in any way without the Ethics Committee signing off. That means any Republican malfeasance will be hidden by the Ethics Committee, while Democratic complaints will be made public, turning what is supposed to be an independent watchdog into a partisan retribution system (also note that Republican operatives could file false claims and the public could never know).
But it gets worse: the Republican-designed OCCR can’t report crimes to the federal (or state) government without Ethics Committee approval. Republicans will walk, whereas Democrats (who as noted could face trumped up charges) will have cases referred to the FBI–who are so very Democratic politician friendly….
Oligarchy, here we come.
By the way, does anyone really think the problem is too much ethical oversight of Congress?
So, since I live in the mainland colony (aka ‘the District of Columbia’) and have taxation without any meaningful representation, please call your representative (contact information at whoismyrepresentative.com) for me and politely tell them they need to stop the corruption*.
And while you’re at it, call your Senator, and ask them to recess appoint some judges (it won’t happen, but let them know, politely, that they failed to protect you)
For journalists, it will be all the more critical that they investigate Congress, as opposed to act as their usual stenographic selves (a boy can dream, can’t he?).
*Even people with Democratic congresscritters should do this. Some of them will need spine-stiffening and encouragement from their constituents.