Black Lawmakers Try To Restrict Ethics Probes
After being targeted in a series of corruption probes, black congressional leaders have quietly introduced legislation to essentially gut the independent office they helped create to investigate wrongdoing among lawmakers.
Ohio Democrat Marcia Fudge introduced the measure to drastically weaken the independent Office of Congressional Ethics that recently determined her top aide improperly helped black caucus members take a lavish Caribbean trip funded by corporations. Congress created the citizen-run ethics office in 2008 because the House Ethics Committee is a joke that seldom investigates corruption.
But the panel’s inquiries have hit the Congressional Black Caucus hard and nearly half of its members want the vibrant new ethics office to cut back on its aggressive agenda to weed out corruption in the U.S. House of Representatives. Twenty of the 42 members of the all-Democratic caucus support Fudge’s measure, which is also sponsored by Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee of
In its short existence, the ethics office has investigated at least eight black caucus members, including the notoriously crooked Charlie Rangel of
Until the independent ethics office was created, Rangel was practically untouchable because fellow lawmakers on the House Ethics Committee refused to take any action against their beloved colleague. Now his buddies in the Congressional Black Caucus want to severely restrict the powers of the civilian ethics office by making it harder to launch investigations and by keeping probes from the public, among other things.
In a statement to the