House must appoint outside counsel for pagegate

For Immediate Release

Contact: Mary Boyle

October 5, 2006

(202) 736-5770

House must appoint outside counsel for pagegate

Today’s announcement by the House Ethics Committee that it will conduct its own investigation of the page scandal and possible cover-up by House leaders is unacceptable. An outside counsel must be appointed to handle the task of investigating House leaders, not House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-IL) handpicked Ethics Committee chairman.

Hastert last year chose Doc Hastings (R-WA ) to lead the ethics panel after Hastert fired the former Ethics Committee chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO), for leading a critical inquiry into former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

In the past, when House speakers of either political party – Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and James Wright (D-TX) — become embroiled in scandals, outside counsels were appointed to oversee the investigation.

“This shows that the House Ethics Committee does not understand the gravity of this situation,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “It’s unrealistic in this highly partisan environment to think that Congressman Hastings or any member of Congress can lead a credible investigation of House leaders. The American people simply won’t buy it.”

“How can we have confidence that Congressman Hastings can investigate Speaker Hastert’s role in the alleged cover-up of the page scandal when Hastings said as recently as today, ‘The speaker has done an excellent job.'” Pingree asked. “Clearly, the Ethics Committee once again has proven how out of touch it is with the real and justifiable concerns of the American people about the ethical conduct of House members.”

Common Cause advocates for the House to return to Washington before Election Day on Nov. 7 and create an outside ethics commission to do ethics enforcement and monitoring in the House.