APRIL 07, 2009
In a pathetic attempt to appear effective, the joke of a House ethics committee has taken swift action against a congressman’s minor speeding infraction while it repeatedly ignores serious corruption allegations among several prominent lawmakers.
The Committee On Standards of Official Conduct issued a press release detailing its speedy and forceful action against Ohio Democrat Zach Space, who got ticketed for speeding and warned for driving with an expired license in Ohio’s Washington County. To be sure, the committee has never worked so expeditiously.
The panel reveals in the release that it voted against empanelling an investigative subcommittee because the conduct was found to be minor. It further points out that Representative Space publicly acknowledged the violation and paid the associated fine.
Sounds like quite a probe into a serious incident. If only the committee could act so efficiently in matters that truly merit it. After all, when Nancy Pelosi became House Speaker she created an independent ethics watchdog (Office of Congressional Ethics) to disinfect Congress of the culture of corruption she claims prevailed under Republicans.
More than two years after Pelosi was sworn in as speaker, her highly touted ethics watchdog, which has a six-member board, has yet to refer a case to the House ethics committee. Furthermore the office operates in secrecy and details of its so-called investigations will be kept from the public.
Here are a few suggestions that could help Madam Speaker keep her infamous “drain the swamp” promise to turn Congress into the most honest and open in history. A swift probe into veteran New York congressman Charles Rangel’s inappropriate use his office to raise money from corporations with business before him. How about a look into Rangel’s decades of tax evasion, even though he chairs the House committee (Ways and Means) that actually writes the federal tax code?
Here’s another good one; investigate Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha for steering hundreds of millions of federal dollars to clients of a defunct lobbying firm that donated heavily to his campaign coffers. Raided by the FBI earlier this year, the Virginia-based firm (PMA Group) was founded by Murtha’s aide and in 2008 alone the lawmaker steered nearly $300 million in earmarks to its clients.
One way for the laughable House ethics committee to perhaps gain some credibility is to take the same sort of supersonic action against these corrupt lawmakers that it took against the congressman ticketed for driving 65 in a 50 mile per hour zone.
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