Common Cause commends GOP House Leaders for Decision to Retain Independent Ethics Committee

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  • Dale Eisman

Common Cause congratulates House Republican leaders for their decision to retain the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) when the 112th Congress convenes next month.

“In its short life, the House’s independent ethics watchdog has provided some sorely needed strength and transparency to Congressional ethics enforcement,” said Bob Edgar, Common Cause’s president. “It’s gratifying that Republican leaders, who opposed creating the office in 2008, now see its value.”

“We trust the new leadership will follow up on this decision by providing the money the office needs to maintain and strengthen its professional staff and continue its work,” Edgar added. “Enforcing high ethical standards ought to be a top priority for House Republicans and Democrats alike.”

During the 111th Congress, the OCE has conducted 69 preliminary investigations in response to complaints or inquiries about the conduct of House members. Twenty-eight cases were terminated without action by the OCE, 21 were referred to the House Ethics Committee for further review, and 17 were referred to the Ethics Committee with a recommendation they be dismissed.

“Creation of the OCE was a major priority for Common Cause,” Edgar said. “We think it could serve as a model for a similar independent body to bolster ethics enforcement in the Senate.”

The ethics office is led by a six-member board, jointly chosen by the House speaker and minority leader. It has investigated Republicans and Democrats alike, working without a hint of partisanship.