Enough is enough. Congress needs an outside ethics commission

Editorial Memorandum

Dear editorial writer:

The bookends for the 109th Congress are disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose investigation dovetailed with the opening of the session at the beginning of 2005, and former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), whose inappropriate behavior with House pages are all over your newspapers today.

In between was a series of crimes and serious ethics breaches that landed one Member in jail, with more likely to follow.

The House has proven beyond a doubt it is incapable of and unwilling to police itself under its ethics system based on peer review.

Against this backdrop of corruption, Common Cause is calling on House leaders to reconvene before the election, and approve the creation of an independent ethics commission. HR 4920, a bill already introduced and sponsored by Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE) does just that, establishing an independent ethics commission that would report alleged violations by members to the House Ethics Committee or appropriate law enforcement agencies.

In this memo, Common Cause explains how an independent ethics commission would work and why it is needed.

If there is any doubt that this substantive reform is needed and that Congress is unable to police itself or to ensure the ethical conduct of its members, we have only to look at the scandals of the past two years and Congress’s wholly inadequate response to them.

Click here to read the memo.

Click here to view the list of scandals.