Boehner, Pelosi Must Keep Ethics Office Strong

With hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into this fall’s elections, much of it from secret donors, it’s critical that Congressional leaders move now to preserve and strengthen the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), Congress’ independent ethics watchdog, Common Cause said today.

The OCE will soon have at least four vacancies. “Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) must back up their commitments to strong ethics enforcement by filling those slots now, so that the office is ready to do its work when the new Congress convenes in January,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar.

The unchecked flow of money into the current campaign means that members of the next Congress will be beholden as never before to energy companies, banks, insurers, the health care industry, defense contractors and an endless array of other special interests, Edgar said. “The independent and aggressive but fair ethics oversight the OCE has provided since its founding in 2007 will be more important than ever,” Edgar said.

Common Cause was a major force in the creation of the OCE, which is composed of non-lawmakers and collects and reviews allegations of ethical violations by House members. The office refers cases which it believes warrant further investigation to the House Ethics Committee – composed of House members — and releases a public summary of its findings.

In the current Congress, the OCE has reviewed or is reviewing 32 complaints and has forwarded 10 on to the Ethics Committee for action.