Common Cause continues to urge independent ethics commission

Common Cause urges the House to create an independent ethics commission to monitor and enforce ethics rules and standards.

“A system of peer review in Congress simply does not work,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, executive vice president of Common Cause, in response to a House Ethics Committee hearing that touched on independent ethics enforcement. “Judging colleagues’ ethical conduct is always hard, but even more so in a legislative body where members depend on good will from other members to get things done.”

Common Cause proposes the creation of an independent, professional non-partisan panel made up of people outside of Congress, such as retired judges, who would perform essentially the same job as the Ethics Committee, but without the strings that come with peer review.

In recent years, Congress has seen a barrage of scandal at the highest levels and a stunning lack of response by the House Ethics Committee. The public perception is that the Ethics Committee has done nothing, that its members, including the former chairman of the committee, were punished for voting to reprimand a congressional leader. The public no longer trusts Congress to police itself.

“Voters spoke clearly last year at the polls that they were fed up with business as usual in Washington and wanted change,” said Goldin-Dubois. “The House has tightened some rules, but stricter rules mean nothing if they are not enforced. Congress must take the next step and establish outside ethics enforcement.”