House GOP leadership should denounce reported effort to intimidate Democrats into defeating independent ethics panel

Common Cause on Wednesday called on Republican leadership to denounce a reported effort by senior Republican House aides to compile a list of Democratic House Members to target with ethics complaints if the House votes to create the independent ethics panel.

Congress Daily reported that the Republican aides were threatening to pursue ethics investigations on 10 named Democrats, if the House votes to approve the panel, a vote that could come this week. Common Cause urges all House members to vote in support of the creation of an independent outside ethics panel (H. Res. 895) to oversee ethics enforcement and assure Members comply with the rules.

“Common Cause calls on the Republican Leadership, Reps John Boehner, Roy Blunt, Adam Putnam and Thaddeus McCotter and any other Republican who believes in the rule of law, to immediately denounce efforts by staff members who are threatening to investigate Democrats if the House votes to reform the ethics process,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “This type of politicization of the ethics process is precisely why an independent ethics panel is needed.”

“The independent panel will serve to decrease the partisanship that has plagued the ethics process in recent years, ” said Gary Kalman, director of PIRG’s federal legislative office.

“Unfortunately, a cynical attitude has developed in Congress with regard to the enforcement of the rules of conduct, as demonstrated by this target list reportedly being drawn up by Republican aides in retaliation for a specific floor vote,” said Edgar.

“The result is a moribund Ethics Committee that has completely failed to act in the presence of unethical or even illegal activities that have, most recently, resulted in yet another indictment of a sitting member of Congress,” said Kalman.

“The objective of an independent ethics enforcement process is to effectively enforce the rules of conduct while preventing ethics complaints from being used as a political weapon,” said Edgar.