A day of ethics – Rangel’s problems confirm the need for the independent Office of Congressional Ethics
Today’s events have put a spotlight on congressional ethics.
The same day that the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure one if its most senior members over ethics violations, it also heard entreaties from 10 reform groups, including Public Citizen, to maintain an important ethics safeguard in the House: the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).
The events highlight a broader drama unfolding in Congress. Despite some shortcomings, the OCE is vastly improving compliance to the ethics rules in Congress – and for that reason the OCE is coming under attack. The agency is in danger of being critically weakened, or even eliminated, when the new Republican majority rewrites the House ethics rules on Jan. 5.
A new Public Citizen analysis (pdf) shows a marked increase in activity by the House ethics committee in just the past two years. This activity stems in large part from the good work of the OCE, and that is why some in Congress want to shut it down. More