Jan. 3, 2017

House Republicans Gut Independent Ethics Office, Inviting Corruption

Statements of Public Citizen Experts

Note: On Monday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to significantly curtail the power of the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of numerous corruption scandals.

Lisa Gilbert, director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division:

“The Office of Congressional Ethics was created to bring accountability to a broken House ethics system. Before the creation of the office, the House Ethics Committee was a black box of inaction. The office has brought transparency and action to a moribund process and received nothing but praise from those watching the congressional ethics system.

Following an election in which disdain for corruption in Washington was a defining issue – for the Republican presidential candidate, no less – it is an outrage that House Republicans are planning to undermine one of the effective moves in recent years to reduce corruption. For House Republicans to hamstring this critical ethics watchdog behind closed doors in the 115th Congress rules package sends a powerful signal concerning the way they intend to govern. There is still time to change the package, and we urge the House leadership to stand up to this covert move to derail the ethics process.”

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. Holman helped set up the Office of Congressional Ethics:

“Now holding a majority in both chambers of Congress and controlling the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court, House Republicans have rolled back the congressional ethics rules imposed upon Congress in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandals rampant when the GOP last controlled the legislative process. The incoming Trump administration has snubbed concerns about conflicts of interest in the executive branch, and Trump’s colleagues in Congress have taken that cue to rid themselves of their own ethical constraints.

We are returning to the era of robber barons running our government, doing whatever they see fit.”

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