The headline and lede are written to get your attention and to slant your response to the story. Headline: House GOP Guts Ethics Panel
House Republicans voted 119-74 Monday night in favor of a proposal that would gut Congress’ outside ethics watchdog and remove its independence.
But if you go past this, you get:
Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s proposal would place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics — an initial watchdog for House members but without power to punish members — under oversight of those very lawmakers.
. . . .
The proposal would bar the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, requiring that it turn over any complaint to the House Ethics Committee or refer the matter to an appropriate federal law enforcement agency. The House Ethics Committee would also have the power to stop an investigation at any point and bars the ethics office from making any public statements about any matters or hiring any communications staff.
So violation of criminal law will be passed onto actual, you know, law enforcement for investigation, and ethical violations will be sent to the organization that sets up the “ethics” rules?
Honestly, I don’t see the problem here. What this is designed to do is to eliminate an avenue for hounding Congressional members, creating press leaks, and providing veracity for claims in political ads that “Congressman Smith is under investigation by an independent ethics board for franking violations” that run on a loop in political advertising.
I’m all for ethics in government and in personal lives, but this thing looks like it was ripe for abuse in making the process of investigation a weapon. After all, it had no power in its own to punish. All it could do was make recommendations and noise in the papers.