Re-authorizing ethics office could improve public perception of Congress

a photo of Rick ClaypoolMost Americans think members of Congress are dishonest and unethical.

That’s the takeaway from a recent Gallup poll, which shows that the public ranks congressional representatives abysmally low in terms of honesty and ethical standards (barely better than car salespeople, who got last place).

How can Congress improve its standing with the public? It can start by not shutting down the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), its in-house, independent ethics watchdog.

Public Citizen has launched a campaign to urge Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to re-authorize and appoint new board members to the OCE. In less than a week, more than 16,000 activists joined the grassroots effort.

In Roll Call, Public Citizen’s Craig Holman was quoted: “Our letter [to Boehner and Pelosi] is brief and to the point. It  . . .  calls their attention to the fact that with half the board expiring, the agency is in danger of going defunct in the 113th Congress, and they certainly don’t want to see that happen.” More